Development begins at Main and Whitewater in Boise

An office building is under construction in Boise's newest urban renewal district.

sberg@idahostatesman.comMarch 7, 2014 

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Joe Wright, left, and Jerry Wright, co-owners of Wright Construction, discuss their excavation on the construction site for White Water Surgery Group’s future headquarters at Main Street and Whitewater Park Boulevard.

SVEN BERG — Idaho Statesman

White Water Surgery Group, a company that formed in September, will occupy 8,000 square feet in a 21,000-square-foot, two-story office building under construction on the southwest corner of the new Whitewater Park Boulevard and Main Street.

White Water isn't just the building's anchor tenant, said Al Marino, an office brokerage specialist for Boise commercial real estate firm Thornton Oliver Keller. The company is also the $4 million building's owner, Marino said. He said two doctors, one who worked on the St. Luke's campus Downtown and one who worked at the Saint Alphonsus campus on the Bench, formed the company.

The partners wanted to be close to both hospitals, Marino said. They also like the proximity to the Boise River Greenbelt and all the recreation the area offers. Efforts to contact the partners were unsuccessful.

In addition to operating their business out of the new building, Marino said, White Water will lease the rest of it as office space for other businesses. They're the first developers to undertake a major project in Downtown's West End.

"It fit perfectly, but obviously, they're banking on the fact that the market is going to feel the same way," Marino said.

The West End is defined as the area between State Street on the north, the Connector on the south, the Boise River on the west and 20th Street on the east.

Before the Connector opened two decades ago, the area was a commercial corridor surrounded by popular middle-class neighborhoods. But I-184 shifted traffic away from Fairview Avenue and Main Street. Businesses on those roads suffered and some of the neighborhoods decayed.

Last year, the city of Boise made 246 acres in the West End its newest urban renewal district. The idea is to reinvigorate what has become a mostly abandoned commercial zone. As part of the overall plan for the area, Ada County Highway District built Whitewater Park Boulevard, connecting Fairview Avenue to State Street and providing a major access road for Quinn's Pond, Boise River Park and the planned Esther Simplot Park.

Elaine Clegg calls the corner of Whitewater and Main the urban renewal district's "A corner." The Boise councilwoman and planning guru welcomes the White Water Surgery Group's building as a sign of bigger things to come.

"My only disappointment is that it's probably not as (tall a building) as that corner will deserve at some point in the future," she said. "But, you know, you can't build for the future. You've got to build for what the demand is today."

On Tuesday, the City Council approved a rezoning of a strip along the West End's southern border. The idea is to allow commercial developers more flexibility and encourage higher-density projects.

Sven Berg: 377-6275

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