Boise & Garden City

Is the Boise Bench a candidate for urban renewal?

Possible tax-revenue allocation area, as shown in CCDC discussion draft of Boise Bench urban renewal district.
Possible tax-revenue allocation area, as shown in CCDC discussion draft of Boise Bench urban renewal district.

The Capital City Development Corp. has been brainstorming ideas around a possible new urban renewal district on the Boise Bench.

The district would include areas between and along Curtis Road, Vista Avenue, Orchard Street and Overland Road.

“All those different corridors ... bring a question; urban renewal might be an answer,” CCDC Executive Director John Brunelle said Tuesday. “Is there a way we can help with more investment in the area?”

Now, it is up to the city of Boise to decide whether to seriously pursue creating a new district. The nine-member CCDC board includes three Boise City Council members and Mayor Dave Bieter.

The city’s four existing urban renewal districts surround the Downtown Boise core.

The Vista neighborhood already is a focal point of a city program that aims to improve Vista’s economy and standard of living.

These beautiful midcentury homes are attracting a lot of people to that area.

CCDC Executive Director John Brunelle

Minutes from a July 17 CCDC board meeting included an item for studying a new Bench district. The possible new district was first reported by donlday.com.

“The potential for a new district in the area has been a topic of CCDC/city conversation,” the minutes said. “General strategy and planning actions to initiate district formation have occurred.”

Brunelle said it is important to note that Bench district planning has been more like “pondering” or “prepreliminary brainstorming” — as opposed to an official planning process that would involve extensive public outreach and meetings with the city, stakeholders, land owners and others.

CCDC is responsible for planning and managing redevelopment in the city’s urban renewal districts. When a district is created, additional revenues from property tax growth that occurs in that district are used to fund its own revitalization projects.

“We were thinking ahead and identifying the relevant questions, timelines, tasks and expenses,” Brunelle said. “Could the urban renewal district, as a tool, be helpful in different parts of Boise? And different parts of the Bench are areas that we’re kind of scoping.”

The meeting document said CCDC’s executive committee and staff met last fall to “explore the project” and that staff members have identified the necessary steps to create such a district; worked on a draft timeline; and did preliminary district mapping.

“In collaboration with the city of Boise, further actions are planned for the fall of 2016,” the meeting document said.

Meanwhile, the board is planning for the sunset of its first urban renewal district — central Downtown Boise — at the end of next year. CCDC is assuming the City of Boise will take ownership of CCDC-owned 8th Street from Bannock to Main streets, and the Grove Plaza.

Audrey Dutton: 208-377-6448, @IDS_Audrey

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