Coming in 2018: Otter leaves, new hotels, a YMCA, road work on State Street

Politics: Butch Otter wraps up his tenure as governor in 2018. The governor's race is among the seven statewide elected offices up for grabs in November. Dining: Four new taco restaurants and a new public marketplace will join the burgeoning foodie scene in the Treasure Valley. Sports: The NCAA men’s basketball tournament rolls into Boise for the ninth time in March. Roads: Idaho’s first two-lane roundabout, a bridge near Harris Ranch and other road projects will dot the Valley landscape starting in spring. Entertainment: The Treefort Music Fest, one of the highlights of the music calendar every year, returns in March. Development: A new YMCA in Meridian and a medical school in Meridian are among the notable commercial and residential projects scheduled in the coming year.
Politics: Butch Otter wraps up his tenure as governor in 2018. The governor's race is among the seven statewide elected offices up for grabs in November. Dining: Four new taco restaurants and a new public marketplace will join the burgeoning foodie scene in the Treasure Valley. Sports: The NCAA men’s basketball tournament rolls into Boise for the ninth time in March. Roads: Idaho’s first two-lane roundabout, a bridge near Harris Ranch and other road projects will dot the Valley landscape starting in spring. Entertainment: The Treefort Music Fest, one of the highlights of the music calendar every year, returns in March. Development: A new YMCA in Meridian and a medical school in Meridian are among the notable commercial and residential projects scheduled in the coming year. jlantz@idahostatesman.com

It’s already shaping up to be an eventful 2018 for the Treasure Valley.

New commercial buildings will pop up everywhere, from hotels and apartments in Downtown Boise to a new Costco in northwest Meridian. New schools will open in Boise, and voters in the West Ada School District will consider building a seventh high school. Nampa’s historic downtown library will be reborn as a home for businesses, while downtown Caldwell will get a boost with the openings of Indian Creek Plaza and an 11-screen movie theater.

But politics will take center stage. All seven statewide offices, both U.S. House seats (but neither U.S. senator) and the entire Legislature will be on the November ballot. After 12 years as governor, Butch Otter, who turns 76 in May, will not run again. A bevy of Republicans has stepped up to seek the nomination in the May primary.

Get a jump on 2018 with this quarter-by-quarter look at changes to come.

January - February - March

The Legislature: Otter, Idaho’s top elected official since 2007, will deliver his final State of the State address Jan. 8 as the Legislature convenes its annual session. For the second year in a row, the Legislature is expected to discuss amending the state Constitution to expand victims’ rights, through Marsy’s Law for Idaho. Lawmakers will also consider asking the federal government for a Medicaid waiver that would allow some of Idaho’s sickest adults to get insurance through Medicaid, and enable the working poor to buy health insurance plans through Idaho’s insurance exchange. Otter has hinted at big plans ahead for higher education, and prisons and parole and urban renewal may also both come up. Lawmakers will start the session with mandatory sexual harassment training after the last couple of months of harassment claims against politicians nationwide.

Legislator in court: Former state Rep. Brandon Hixon of Caldwell is scheduled to appear in Ada County Magistrate Court on Jan. 25 for a pretrial conference. He is accused of misdemeanor driving under the influence and resisting arrest on Dec. 9 in Meridian.

Boise City Council: Maryanne Jordan, who has served on the council since 2003, and Ben Quintana, who joined in 2011, will step down on Jan. 9. Neither sought re-election. They will be succeeded by Lisa Sanchez and Holli Woodings. The new council will have a majority of four women, the first time that’s happened since 1999.

Nampa City Council: Debbie Kling, who defeated one-term Mayor Bob Henry in November, will take office on Jan. 2. Victor Rodriguez and Rick Hogaboam will join the council.

Zoo Boise rendering
An artist’s drawing shows how a portion of the new Zoo Boise exhibit will look. The exhibit will feature animals native to Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique. Zoo Boise

The zoo: Zoo Boise will embark in January on an $8.9 million expansion aimed at bringing a taste of Mozambique’s Gorongosa National Park to Boise. The exhibit will include African wild dogs, baboons, vervet monkeys and Nile crocodiles. A smaller exhibit will feature Southeast Asia’s Annamite Mountains. The new exhibits are scheduled to open in summer 2019.

Downtown housing: Fowler Apartments: A seven-story apartment building with 159 units is scheduled to open by late February at 505 W. Broad St. in Boise. Rents will range from $1,100 to $1,900 per month. The Wylder, a pizza restaurant, and Form & Function, a coffeehouse, have already opened inside.

More Downtown housing: The eight-unit Verraso apartments at 1420 W. Front St. in Boise are set to open in late winter. The two-story building, kitty-corner from the Connector-covered Rhodes Skate Park and developed by Envision 360, will have two-, three- and four-bedroom apartments. Two other housing projects in the nearby River Street neighborhood are scheduled to begin construction in 2018. Energreen Development Co., of McCall, plans 10 three-level condominium units on the northwest corner of 15th and River streets. And deChase Miksis plans the 34-unit Ash Street Workhouse Housing on the northwest corner of Ash and River streets.

Nampa’s old library: The 98-year-old building that housed Nampa’s downtown library until 2015 is being remodeled. Developer Mike Mussell says it is mostly leased and should be ready for occupancy in February or March.

Solar rooftops: The Idaho Public Utilities Commission is set to hold a hearing March 8 on Idaho Power’s request to change the way it treats customers with rooftop solar systems. The company wants them to pay their “fair share” of the company’s operation and maintenance costs. Customers provide electricity to the power grid when supply exceeds their needs and obtain electricity from Idaho Power when needed.

Salvation Army school: Construction is scheduled to start in late February, weather permitting, on the new Salvation Army/Marian Pritchett School campus on Emerald Street near Maple Grove Road. The school, which has served pregnant and parenting teens since 1964, will include a community center that will be open year-round. The campus is scheduled to open in summer 2019.

State and 36th: The Ada County Highway District will begin work on a new intersection where Veterans Memorial Parkway and 36th Street meet State Street in Boise. Some buildings will be demolished in 2018, including Smoky Davis, the smokehouse that has been a fixture at 3914 W. State St. for 64 years.

Health care: Saint Alphonsus Health System is scheduled to open a new clinic in January on Emerald Street west of Curtis Road, offering family medicine, urgent care and occupational medical services. The 13,100-square-foot clinic will eventually replace a nearby clinic at Emerald and Liberty streets.

Children’s health care: Funding for a federal program that provides medical care for more than 22,000 Idaho children could end in February or March. If Congress cannot agree on long-term funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare plans to put the youngsters on Medicaid, which would keep them covered and allow them to continue seeing their same health care providers.

Sexual abuse: Pretrial arguments are scheduled Feb. 2 in a lawsuit involving several juveniles who say they were sexually abused while held at the Idaho Juvenile Corrections Center in Nampa. An investigation led to the retirement of the center’s superintendent and the firing of several employees, and one former worker went to prison. A trial is scheduled to begin July 30.

Sports: The 2018 Winter Olympics will take place from Feb. 8 to 23 in PyeongChang, South Korea. Several athletes from Idaho or with ties to the state are competing for slots on the team.

More sports: Boise State University will host first- and second-round games March 15-17 in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. It marks the ninth time that Taco Bell Arena has played host to the tournament – and the first time since 2009.

Arts: The nonprofit Gem Center for the Arts is preparing to open following rehabilitation of a former office building at 2417 W. Bank Drive, near Overland Road and Vista Avenue. The center will include studios and performance space.

0326 treefort09
Mini Horse rocks the Radioland stage at the 2017 Treefort Music Fest. More than 400 bands are expected to perform at the 2018 festival, scheduled for March 21-25. Darin Oswald doswald@idahostatesman.com

Entertainment: Treefort Music Fest returns March 21-25 with hundreds of bands playing the main stage and smaller Downtown venues. Some of the more than 400 acts slated to perform include George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, Andrew W.K. and Galactic. Treefort also will feature Alefort, Filmfort, Foodfort, Hackfort, Kidfort, Storyfort, Comedyfort and Yogafort.

Lots of tacos: Four new taco restaurants plan to open in Boise. In January, Calle 75 Street Tacos will take over the former Golden Phoenix Oriental Express spot at 110 N. 11th St. in Downtown Boise. Food truck The Funky Taco hopes to launch a brick-and-mortar restaurant in late January or early February in the former Mongolian Grill and Bar space at 801 W. Bannock St. Madre, a fast-casual boutique taqueria, is slated to open in February at 1034 S. La Pointe St. in the Lusk District. And Diablo & Sons, a bar-driven restaurant specializing in tacos, beer and mezcal, plans to open in the former Pollo Rey spot at 222 N. 8th St. in March.

April - May - June

Primary elections: All seven statewide elected offices are up for election in November, and interest is building in the May 15 primary. With Gov. Butch Otter retiring, a slew of Republicans have signaled intentions to seek his seat, including Lt. Gov. Brad Little, Boise developer and physician Tommy Ahlquist, and 1st District congressman Raul Labrador. At least five are seeking Little’s seat.

Downtown library: The Boise Public Library hopes to release design ideas for a new main library in April. The city wants to replace the 1940s-era warehouse that was converted into a library in 1973. The cost is estimated between $60 million and $70 million, with up to a third to come from donations.

1231 hilton inn
This Hilton Garden Inn with 175 rooms is under construction at 13th and Front streets in Boise. It will include a separate 644-space parking garage. Three other hotels opened Downtown in 2017. Darin Oswald doswald@idahostatesman.com

Downtown hotel: The fourth new Downtown hotel in just over a year is expected to open in May. The 175-room Hilton Garden Inn at 13th and Front streets will include a separate, 644-space parking garage. The Pioneer Crossing project also includes a Panera Bread restaurant, which is scheduled to open in the spring. (Three hotels opened in 2017: Inn at 500 Capitol, Residence Inn Boise Downtown and Hyatt Place Boise.)

Nampa hotels: A Home2 Suites extended-stay hotel by Hilton expects to open near the Ford Idaho Center and the Idaho Horse Park. Across I-84 at the Gateway Center, a planned four-story Candlewood Suites will break ground. Evergreen Hospitality Group, the company building the Candlewood, plans to add a La Quinta Inns and Suites next door in a few years.

Caldwell plaza: The Indian Creek Plaza, where Caldwell hopes to host 200 events a year, is scheduled to open in April. Located at Kimball and Arthur streets, the plaza will feature an ice-skating rink in the winter and a splash pond in the summer. The Gardner Co. is building an 11-screen movie theater and 8,000 square feet of retail space next to the plaza; they should be completed in early summer.

Indian Creek Plaza
An artist’s rendering of the Indian Creek Plaza, which is scheduled to open in April at Kimball and Arthur streets in downtown Caldwell. The plaza will feature an ice-skating rink in the winter and a splash pond in the summer. The city hopes it will host 200 events a year. Provided by Destination Caldwell

Museum reopens: The Idaho State Historical Museum, closed for the past four years to complete a $17 million renovation and expansion, is scheduled to reopen in May. The project adds about 16,000 square feet to the museum and is the first redesign of the exhibitions since 1950.

Arts: The Boise City Department of Arts and History will celebrate the grand opening of the James Castle House with a symposium April 25-27. The city in 2016 bought the former home of arguably Idaho’s most noted artist.

More arts: Ballet Idaho plans to announce its new artistic director in the spring. Outgoing artistic director Peter Anastos is retiring after 10 years.

Dining: Chow Public Market and Eatery, a “public marketplace” at the Boise Spectrum, is slated to open in May, across from Edwards 21 Cinemas.

Meridian YMCA: The Treasure Valley Family YMCA plans to open a new Y near South Eagle and Amity roads in May, adjacent to the new Hillsdale Elementary School.. The YMCA is partnering with St. Luke’s Health System, the West Ada School District and the city of Meridian to offer a school-nurse program and a wellness center to help people eat, exercise and live more healthfully. Nearby, over the summer, St. Luke’s Health System expects to open a clinic.

Boise State: Effective June 30, President Bob Kustra will retire, ending 14 years at the helm of BSU in which he fundamentally transformed it from a commuter school into a university with burgeoning enrollment and new buildings all over campus.

Meridian YMCA
An artist’s drawing of the front of the South Meridian Family YMCA, which is scheduled to open in May. Provided by South Meridian Family YMCA

Health: St. Luke’s plans to break ground on a new orthopedic center at 25th and Fairview streets to relieve pressure on the health system’s flagship Downtown Boise hospital, where surgery suites and inpatient beds are routinely filled to capacity.

July - August - September

New roundabout: Idaho’s first full two-lane roundabout is slated to open at East Fort and Reserve streets near St. Luke’s Boise Medical Center. Also, a new cycle track will open around the new perimeter of the hospital.

New intersection: Work will wrap up on the updated intersection of Lake Hazel and Cole roads. The intersection will be 17 feet higher than today’s so it can cross the New York Canal.

New bridge: A bridge will connect Warm Springs Avenue to Marianne Williams Park on the south side of Harris Ranch.

Education: The Boise School District expects to complete a new Amity Elementary School. It will replace the 1979 building that was lauded for its use of solar energy and an earthen roof that later was plagued with leaks. The district also expects to finish expansions at Timberline High School, Hillside Junior High and at the Dennis Professional Technical Education Center.

Sports field: A sports practice field for Boise High School is slated to be finished. Located four blocks away from the school, near the Fort Boise Learning Center, the practice fields will provide 15 acres of lawn. Boise High is also working on remodeling the school’s gym and performing arts center, projects expected to be completed in October.

The 5th & Idaho apartment building will include a small public park. Provided by GGLO

Downtown housing: Eighty-one apartments are scheduled to open in the 5th & Idaho building. The complex will also include a 1,120-square-foot pocket park with artificial turf.

Albertsons: The grocer is building a new store — the Boise company’s first in the Treasure Valley since 1999 — at Broadway and Beacon streets, south of Boise State University. The company is also remodeling a former ShopKo store at Eagle Road and Fairview in Meridian.

Medical school: The Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine, Idaho’s first medical school, is scheduled to open to students. The privately funded school is under construction at 1311 E. Central Drive in Meridian.

Health: St. Luke’s plans to open Park Place Clinic on Park Boulevard.

October - November - December

Election: The Nov. 6 election includes the midterm congressional races along with all elected state executive offices, all Idaho legislative seats and some local races.

Homeless housing: A 40-unit housing complex for the chronically homeless , New Path Community Housing, is scheduled to open by the end of October at the site of the former Twin Dragon Chinese Restaurant at 2200 W. Fairview Ave. Terry Reilly Health Services will provide on-site social services, medical treatment and life skills training.

New Path homeless housing rendering
An artist’s rendering of New Path Community Housing, on the corner of Fairview Avenue and 22nd Street in Boise. Provided by Idaho Housing and Finance Association

Collister and State: An Ada County Highway District project to realign Collister Drive to the west and provide dedicated right- and left-turn lanes onto State Street will begin construction in the fall. State Street will be widened, an additional crosswalk will be installed, and a Greenbelt access point will be improved. The project is expected to take about a year.

Micron: The Boise memory manufacturer expects to finish a three-story office building about the size of a Walmart Supercenter at its headquarters campus off Federal Way.

Costco: The retailer plans to open a store at Chinden Boulevard and Ten Mile Road.

Health: Saint Alphonsus plans to open a “neighborhood hospital” on East Myrtle Street, south of Whole Foods. The hospital will include eight examination rooms, eight inpatient beds and an imaging department containing X-ray and CT services.

No specified months

Health: Construction will continue on the new children’s pavilion and other projects in the upgrading of the St. Luke’s Downtown campus.

John Sowell: 208-377-6423, @JohnWSowell