Theres a fascinating story behind the Eighth & Main building in Downtown Boise, and the Gardner Co. decided no garden-variety ribbon-cutting would do it justice.
So this Saturday, Gardner, which built the Eighth & Main tower, is planning Boises biggest street party of the year. That is, unless you count the Idaho New Year's Commission's New Years Eve celebration, which featured a giant foam potato dropping into the U.S. Bank Plaza, also owned by Gardner.
So tell me about this party.
The Goo Goo Dolls, who burst onto the pop scene in the 1990s, are Gardners headline act. Theyre preceded by Allen Stone, a jazz-blues-soul singer, and Syracuse University product Ra Ra Riot.
Is that it?
Those are the highlights. Look for family activities, food, a beer garden and more. The formal ribbon-cutting is set for 6 p.m. Saturday. See the full schedule farther down this page.
Sounds expensive. Whats the cost for all this? And whos paying?
Both Gardner and Zions Bank, Eighth & Mains financier and anchor tenant, are footing the bill. Geoffrey Wardle, Gardners vice president of development, wouldnt give specifics but said his companys cost will be in the tens of thousands of dollars. A Zions spokeswoman wouldnt say how much the bank is spending.
You said something about a fascinating story?
Gardner built the Eighth & Main building on the infamous northwest corner of 8th and Main streets. The Overland Hotel was built there 150 years ago and stood for decades. The Eastman building replaced it in the early 1900s and was a beacon in Downtown Boise until the Boise Redevelopment Agency bought it in the 1970s and kicked everyone out.
Billy Fong, one of the last members of Boises Chinese community, cursed the ground when he had to leave the Eastman. And with the decades that followed, the legend of that curse grew.
The Eastman sat vacant for 15 years before it burned in a suspicious blaze. After that, plan after plan for new developments fell through.
But didnt something get built at 8th and Main streets?
Sort of. Foundation work started in 2001 on Rick Petersons proposed 25-story Boise Tower. But financial and legal problems put an end to it.
Sounds like there was something to this curse.
People sure started to wonder about it. They started calling the lot, with its rebar protrusions, the Boise Hole and the Boise Pit. Now, a 327-foot building occupies the hole.
Whats next for Downtown?
Gardner is laying plans for U.S. Bank Plaza, which the company bought in August. The development would have two new buildings on the south and west sides of the U.S. Bank tower with space for restaurants, offices, meetings, conventions, a ballroom and garage parking. Underneath it all, Gardner plans to build a 40,000-square-foot public transportation hub in partnership with the Valleys bus district.
Sven Berg: 377-6275