Boise & Garden City

Like Freak, Knitting Factory, Union Block alleys? Here’s what will be done to this one

How this man started the art-decorated Boise alley known as Freak Alley Gallery

Founder and director Colby Akers shares his history in kickstarting Freak Alley Gallery in Downtown Boise. (First published July 31, 2015.)
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Founder and director Colby Akers shares his history in kickstarting Freak Alley Gallery in Downtown Boise. (First published July 31, 2015.)

Another Downtown Boise alley will get a makeover designed to invite you in.

The alley that runs from Capitol Boulevard to 6th Street between Main and Grove streets is surrounded by several restaurants, bars, entertainment venues and other potential points of interest that made it a good candidate for upgrades, said Matt Edmond, project manager for capital improvements for the Capital City Development Corp., Boise’s urban-renewal agency. Leku Ona, Bardenay and Tom Grainey’s all border the alley.

Installing overhead lights, replacing deteriorated asphalt and consolidating trash in one place and hiding it are key parts of the project.

Edmond said planners hope the project will be good for businesses as more people travel through and use the alley, which is called Block 7.

Previously, Freak Alley, which links 8th and 9th streets between Bannock and Idaho, and Union Alley, just across 8th Street east of Freak, received similar upgrades as part of an effort to turn selected alleys into public spaces. The alley next to the Knitting Factory on 9th Street was also improved.

Freak Alley has been decorated with murals and art since 2002. The Union Block alley, which runs behind the Union Block and Idaho buildings, connects with a north-south spur that provides access to Bannock Street and was included in the upgrade. The spur goes past the St. Lawrence Gridiron patio.

“Freak Alley and Union Block Alley probably get the most foot traffic throughout the day and night, and the alley … next to the Knitting Factory has a lot of foot traffic and active uses right on it,” Edmond said. “We think Block 7 has a lot of potential to extend the public space from 6th Street/Old Boise and the Basque Block.”

The upgrade is expected to cost about $400,000. Edmond said planners hope the construction will be done this fall after CCDC awards a construction contract.

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