The year ahead: Big news coming in the Treasure Valley in 2017

Artist Ken McCall puts finishing touches Friday, Dec. 30, on his sculpture “Symmetry” in front of the soon-to-open Inn at 500 Capitol in Downtown Boise.
Artist Ken McCall puts finishing touches Friday, Dec. 30, on his sculpture “Symmetry” in front of the soon-to-open Inn at 500 Capitol in Downtown Boise.

Big construction projects opening in Downtown Boise highlight major changes and events on tap in 2017 across the Treasure Valley. Here’s a quarter-by-quarter look at what to expect in development, entertainment, crime, roadwork, government and even the skies above.


Development: The Inn at 500 Capitol — and the attached Richard’s restaurant — is scheduled to open in January, ahead of two or three other Boise hotels slated for 2017 openings (see “Spring”).

New laws: The Idaho Legislature convenes January 9 and likely will consider familiar topics, including tax breaks, transportation funding and the teacher pay ladder. Republicans, who hold 88 of 105 seats in the combined chambers, may be emboldened to pursue a small-government agenda after President-elect Donald Trump’s victory, which leaves the GOP in control of both the presidency and Congress.

Health care: One topic to watch this session is the Medicaid gap. Lawmakers will consider solutions for providing health care to thousands of Idahoans who aren’t insured or covered by Medicaid, possibly while the incoming president tries to gut the Affordable Care Act.

Dick Armstrong, director of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, shares his thoughts about what may happen with health care during a Trump administration -- and how Idaho and its health care exchange may be impacted.

The governor: Idaho Gov. Butch Otter, who is being vetted for U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, could create ripples through the state if he’s nominated to the post. If he does, Lt. Gov. Brad Little would become governor, making him an incumbent during the 2018 governor race. Otter has already said this will be his last term, and Little has filed to run for the office.

Road improvements: Construction starts in January on the Cole Road and Fairview Avenue intersection, widening to eight lanes on Fairview and seven on Cole. The work will also add turn lanes, bike lanes and sidewalks. Construction will continue through August, and Cole south of the intersection will close Jan. 3 for about two months.

Science: A Dinosaur Named Sue, the largest and best-preserved Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton in the world, opens at the Discovery Center of Idaho in Boise on Jan. 21.

Entertainment: Treefort Music Fest returns March 22 through 26 with hundreds of bands playing the main stage and smaller Downtown venues. Additional features this year include Alefort, Filmfort, Foodfort, Hackfort, Kidfort, Storyfort and newcomers Comedyfort and Skatefort.

More entertainment: International jazz artist and Idaho resident Curtis Stigers’ “One More for the Road” album releases Jan. 20.

Education: Voters in the Boise School District will decide on a $172 million bond in March that would help build six new schools and fix others.

More education: Kuna School District voters will consider a $40 million school building construction bond and a $2.5 million supplemental levy in March.

Law: Idaho’s new system in which losers of civil suits pay the legal fees of the winner takes effect in March, the first of its kind in the nation. Critics say the system may pressure plaintiffs into not filing lawsuits.

Libraries: Boise broke ground for the Library! at Bown Crossing in 2015. The new branch library is expected to open in February or March.

Crime: Emmett resident Ammon Bundy and his brother, Ryan, are back in court in Portland for a Feb. 2 trial on charges stemming from a 2014 occupation of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge and standoff with federal officers with their father, Cliven Bundy.

More crime: Murder suspect Bruce Marchant, accused of killing 18-year-old Boise State University student Sierra Bush, is scheduled to appear in New York Criminal Court on Jan. 5. If he does not waive extradition, Idaho Gov. Butch Otter will have to send a formal request to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Still more crime: Ex-Boise police officer Mark Furniss, accused of stealing thousands from the Fraternal Order of Police, has a preliminary hearing in Fourth District Court on Jan. 10. His wife, Sara, who is also accused of grand theft, has a preliminary hearing that morning.


Development: Hyatt Place, a 152-room hotel at 119 S. 10th St., is slated to open in April.

More development: Residence Inn by Marriott, the 180-room hotel under construction across the street from The Inn at 500 Capitol, is scheduled to open this spring.

Still more development: The Fowler, a 159-unit apartment building at 401 S. 5th Street, is slated for completion this spring. So is The Afton, a 28-condo project under construction at 611 S. 8th St.

Homelessness: A Housing First project that would house up to 40 chronically homeless people on the edge of Downtown is scheduled to break ground this spring. The units are expected to be built on Fairview Avenue between 22nd and 23rd streets.

Roadwork: Construction will begin in April on Cole Road between Spectrum Street and Century Way. Crews will install raised concrete median to replace the existing temporary median, wrapping up in May.

More roadwork: Construction on Lake Hazel Road between Pearl Jensen and Acacia avenues will begin in May and end sometime in June. Crews will build sidewalks on both sides of the road.

Health care: St. Luke’s Health System faces a May 1 deadline to sell Saltzer Medical Group in Nampa under a judge’s order following a federal anti-trust lawsuit.

Crime: Christopher Bohnenkamp, the former Boise custom jet boat maker accused of pocketing millions in prepayments for boats he didn’t deliver, is scheduled to stand trial at the U.S. Courthouse in Boise. Bohnenkamp faces 21 counts of fraud and six counts of bank fraud.

Sports: The world’s best skateboarders and BMX riders will compete at Rhodes Skate Park in Boise on June 10 for spots in X Games Minneapolis.

Beer: Two breweries are slated to open this spring: Montana-based White Dog Brewing Co. at the old TableRock Brewpub spot Downtown, and Clairvoyant Brewing Co. in the West End.

The owners of Bozeman, Montana-based White Dog Brewing Co. talk about plans to open at 705 W. Fulton St. in Boise in 2017.

Entertainment: The 25th anniversary tour of “The Phantom of the Opera” will play June 14 through 25 at the Morrison Center.

More entertainment: The Boise Philharmonic will announce its new music director after a season-long search. Seven national and international directors are vying for the job.

Still more entertainment: After being forced out of its traditional outdoor venue at Grove Plaza because of construction, the outdoor concert series Alive After 5 will return in June.


Development: The final touches will be wrapped up on the park between Jack’s Urban Meeting Place and the J.R. Simplot Co.’s new Downtown headquarters when work on the amphitheater wraps up sometime in the summer.

Health Care: Saint Alphonsus Health System will open its new Nampa hospital near I-84 and Garrity Avenue, replacing the old main hospital.

More health care: St. Luke’s Health System plans to break ground on its new Children’s Pavilion at Jefferson Street and Avenue B, part of its Downtown expansion.

Food and beer: Spring Creek Brewing Co., a pizzeria and pub, is schedule to open in Boise at 18651 N. Streams Edge Way.

Science: A total solar eclipse will happen Aug. 21. Spectators in the Treasure Valley will see only a partial eclipse for two hours and nine minutes, but a swath of Idaho north and east of Boise including Weiser, Smiths Ferry, Stanley, Mackay, Rexburg and Driggs will see a total eclipse for more than two minutes.

Here are some animations showing the path of totality through Idaho for the Aug. 21, 2017, solar eclipse.


Development: The One Nineteen, a 26-condo project at 119 S. 10th St., is slated for completion.

Parks: The next phase of the Esther Simplot Park, which opened in Boise’s West End in November, is expected to begin in November. It will connect the whitewater park to the Boise River.

Boise's 55-acre Esther Simplot Park opens Wednesday, with 23 acres of ponds, sand beaches, playgrounds, an island, changing rooms, pavillions and a new section of the Greenbelt. Explore its paths, ponds and playgrounds.

Sports: The Onward Shay! full and half marathon is expected to return after drawing around 1,100 participants in its first year. The race is a qualifier for the Boston Marathon.

Culture: The Idaho State Historical Museum closed in 2014 for an expansion adding 13,000 square feet to its 1950s-era building. It will reopen to the public in the fall.

More culture: The city will open the restored homesite of outsider artist James Castle.

Health care: Saint Alphonsus will open a small “neighborhood hospital“ now under construction in the parking lot of its old main hospital at 1512 12th Ave. in Nampa.

More health care: St. Luke’s expects to have finished its new 87-bed hospital in Nampa at the intersection of Cherry Lane and Midland Boulevard.


Crime: The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is expected to take up the case of four DBSI executives who were convicted of fraud in 2014 in the collapse of the Meridian real-estate investment company. The executives claimed the evidence presented was insufficient for the jury to find them guilty and challenged a judge’s pretrial ruling preventing their attorneys from asking potential jurors if they were biased against members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. All four defendants are Mormon.

Natural resources: Final decisions from the Bureau of Land Management are expected for the Gateway and Boardman-to-Hemingway transmission lines, which would connect to carry electricity across southern Idaho. The projects would still need counties’ approval in Idaho and state approval in Oregon.

More natural resources: Idaho Power’s effort to relicense its Hells Canyon dams will receive key decisions from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on fish passage, though projects won’t be completed until later.

Wildfires: The Forest Service will spend the year rehabilitating the nearly 200,000 acres of the Boise National Forest that burned in the Pioneer Fire. The process will include efforts to get approval for salvage sales that may be challenged.

Development: Developer Chad Olsen hopes to break ground on an eight-apartment project Downtown on the corner of 15th and Front streets. The apartments would preserve the structure of the 9,000-square-foot warehouse standing at the site.

Business: Payroll and human resources company Paylocity is expected to announce its Boise location and may move in as part of expansion plans to hire more than 500 employees in the coming years.

Entertainment: The Egyptian Theatre in Downtown Boise will celebrate its 90th anniversary and is one of only a handful of Egyptian theaters still operating in the country.

Zach Kyle: 208-377-6464, @IDS_ZachKyle. Other Statesman staff members contributed.

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