This is the third of four profiles of Treasure Valley commercial real estate agents in a special commercial real estate section in the January 18-February 14, 2017, edition of the Idaho Statesman’s Business Insider magazine. The first is here, the second here.
Ben Kneadler knows his way around the retail complex anchored by a Fred Meyer at Chinden Boulevard and Linder Road in Meridian. Over the past decade, Kneadler, an associate broker at Mark Bottles Real Estate Services, was part of the team that sold three parcels and leased about 15 others, steering the property from an empty lot to a bustling business center.
The project spanned 10 of his 15 years in Treasure Valley real estate, including years of negotiating, securing entitlements, attracting an anchor and filling the surrounding parcels. Kneadler made and received “hundreds and hundreds” of phone calls over the life of the project, he says.
“When you bring a project like that on an emerging market, the cold calling is important to try to convince people and close the deal,” Kneadler says.
Kneadler, 42, previously taught math, science and history and coached football and basketball at Lowell Scott Middle School in Meridian. He jumped into real estate seeking a more lucrative career. He was intrigued by dealmaking.
“I was drawn to development and the business-to-business aspect of it,” he says.
He handles mostly retail sites and land.
Downtown Boise has been a weaker retail district since Macy’s closed in 2010, Kneadler says. The department store was an anchor for other clothiers. Chain clothing shops often are required to lease near other clothing stores to draw shoppers collectively.
Now, Block 44 and BoDo are the strongest Downtown shopping draws, he says. Block 44 is bounded by 8th, 9th, Bannock and Idaho streets. It includes The North Face in the 121-year-old Mode Building and other shops and restaurants. BoDo is a district along 8th and Broad Street between Capitol Boulevard and 9th Street. It includes an Edwards theater, Office Depot, P.F. Chang’s China Bistro and other restaurants and stores.
But retail overall endures Downtown, thanks to a strong food-and-beverage scene and arts, sports and other draws. New Downtown projects, including hotels now under construction, the Boise Centre expansion and the new Jack’s Urban Meeting Place are drawing people to the city’s core.
“There are lots of reasons to be Downtown,” Kneadler said. “It’s walkable. It’s safe. It has a good vibe.”
But most retail activity occurs farther west. Kneadler says restaurant transactions — which count as retail — remain hot. Stores, meanwhile, are evolving.
Retail will follow the rooftops. As the valley continues to expand west and south, your next retail core will likely be the Ten Mile Road interchange.
Ben Kneadler, associate broker at Mark Bottles Real Estate Services
“What we’d call the midbox guys — the pet stores, the sporting goods stores — those are moving online,” he says. “There are no midbox tenants who are super-active out there, and if they are, they need to be leaner and meaner.”