Boise & Garden City

After five years of trying, Boise City Hall plaza revamp should start soon

A rendering of what the front of Boise City Hall will look like from the southwest after an overhaul to the plaza in front of the building is done.
A rendering of what the front of Boise City Hall will look like from the southwest after an overhaul to the plaza in front of the building is done.

Demolition of the existing version of Boise City Hall’s plaza will start in March, said Karen Bubb, the city’s public art manager.

The rebuilding process should start sometime in late spring or early summer, Bubb said. The first phase, on the plaza’s south side, is scheduled for completion by June, with the second half wrapping up by early December, she said.

The redo of the plaza in front of City Hall has been years in the making. In 2011, after learning that the fountain on the plaza’s north side leaks into the parking garage below City Hall, the City Council voted to overhaul the plaza’s art on top of rebuilding its structure.

Several attempts to find the right design failed. Finally, in early 2014, the city picked a design by Dwaine Carver and a team of fellow artists that is meant to evoke a grove of cottonwoods, the tree that inspired Boise’s name.

Then, another complication arose. Developer Gardner Co. started building City Center Plaza on the northeast side of the Grove Plaza, just southwest of City Hall. The project displaced a staging area for public transportation buses on Main Street. Authorities settled on using the one-block stretch of Capitol Boulevard in front of City Hall as a temporary replacement staging area.

Construction of City Center Plaza recently wrapped up, freeing up the front of City Hall for the plaza redo.

The cottonwoods grove will be part of the first phase of work on the plaza’s south side. In addition to a group of iron panels with cutouts in the shapes of leaves and branches, the grove will have a low-water fountain in the middle of it, Bubb said.

The second phase will include a series of steps and a small lawn, she said, as well as a grove of real trees of various species, including river birch.

At $200,000, the art display will be a small-cost item compared to the rest of the effort to shore up City Hall plaza’s structure, which will cost about $3.7 million, according to the city’s most recent estimates.

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