Long-awaited Trader Joe’s opens Friday

The Downtown grocer is prepared for heavy traffic all through the weekend.

adutton@idahostatesman.comFebruary 27, 2014 

After years of lobbying the company to open a store here, Treasure Valley shoppers will walk into the state’s first Trader Joe’s at 8 a.m. Friday.

But first, they’ll have to find parking.

The new Trader Joe’s on the corner of Front Street and South Capitol Boulevard in Boise shares a parking lot with the newly constructed Chipotle Mexican Grill and Panda Express restaurants. That lot has 80 spaces, almost 200 fewer than the nearby Whole Foods Market/Walgreens center.

Trader Joe’s will have 12 fewer spaces in the parking lot than the Boise Co-op has.

“We are urging anyone who wants to join the excitement to please use the parking garages surrounding Trader Joe’s,” real estate developer the Hawkins Companies said in a news release.

The Trader Joe’s parking lot will be closed until 7 a.m. Friday.

The public parking garages nearby will provide one hour of free parking, as usual. For the store’s debut, shoppers can pick up a $1 coupon for additional time, the developer said.

On-duty police officers will be stationed near the store directing traffic all weekend, according to Scott Dudek, a Trader Joe’s “captain” who moved from Seattle to manage the Boise store.

“We will have crew members in the parking lot doing carry-outs” to keep things moving smoothly, he said.

Parking tends to be a problem around Trader Joe’s stores, at least according to news coverage of grand openings in other cities.

The Miami Herald said a “sharp influx of traffic” around a new store in Pinecrest, Fla., last year “led to a mega tow-a-thon” as customers parked in neighboring businesses’ lots.

The same thing happened in Denver when a Trader Joe’s opened there — with about 90 parking spaces — earlier this month, and traffic irked residents nearby, according to some Denver TV stations.

In Boise’s case, the site’s developer actually outdid the requirements for parking. Zoning for the property does not require a retailer to have on-site parking, because on-street and garage parking in the area is expected to accommodate customers, according to Boise Planning and Development Services.

Boise parking enforcement will be patrolling.

“We’re looking at that area,” said Craig Croner, city of Boise administrative services manager. “Where (the store is) currently located, that was a parking lot, so ... that has had an impact on parking Downtown.”

Nearby blocks already have parking congestion, he said. Buildings such as the Concordia University School of Law, St. Luke’s Regional Medical Center and the Family Advocacy Center and Education Services building bring in lots of cars.

“There should be adequate space for the amount of folks that are shopping in that area, provided we don’t have other people utilizing (the Trader Joe’s lot), clogging up stalls,” Croner said.

Yes, he said, even those 80 precious spots could be snagged by parkers with no plans to shop. If the on-street parking gets too crazy, it’s possible the city could put up parking meters to replace the unmetered zones there now, he said.

Audrey Dutton: 377-6448, Twitter: @IDS_Audrey

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