Downtown—Boise Page 28
One fourth of the businesses that opened last year in downtown Boise are apparel, home, furniture, jewelry or floral gift shops, while the area near Freak Alley and Boise City Hall has exploded with chef-driven food concepts and local craft beer purveyors.
Boise is booming. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2018 Idaho was the fastest growing state in terms of percentage change in population: 2.0%. For comparison, Utah was second (1.91%), Washington third (1.74%) and Nevada fourth (1.73%).] Boise is at the epicenter of this growth; it was named by Forbes as the fastest growing major city in the United States last year. Why Boise? Affordability, employment growth and quality of life—the very same factors that helped Portland to boom are in play in Boise. Its population growth is fueled by in-migration from more expensive West Coast markets—including tech firms.
If you’re trying to find the local creative enclave, any place with a name like “Freak Alley” is a good place to start. Freak Alley has been a Boise institution since 2002 and is notable for its murals, graffiti and public art. It is said to be the largest outdoor gallery in the Northwest and is one of the focal points of the city’s downtown growing art scene. That may be one of many factors why online relocation website MoveHub ranked Boise as number four on its “Hipster Index” in 2018. The index looked at five things: the number of microbreweries, thrift stores, vegan restaurants, tattoo studios per 100,000 people, and the rent inflation index (because once a neighborhood begins to experience the Cool Street trend, rents inevitably rise with increased desirability).
Painting an area with the Cool Street brush is a little more complicated than merely looking at the number of thrift stores or tattoo parlors, but it’s hard to argue with the fact that something major is happening in the City of Trees. An explosion of new development downtown, including Pioneer Crossing (a $65 million development that will add office, retail and hotel space), the expansion of convention facilities at Boise Centre (and three additional hotels), new multifamily developments (The Owyhee, The Fowler, The Afton, the One Nineteen, the WaterCooler Apartments among others) and a revitalized downtown dining and retail scene are all being driven by the sharp uptick in population growth. One fourth of the businesses that opened last year in downtown Boise are apparel, home, furniture, jewelry or floral gift shops, while the area near Freak Alley and Boise City Hall has exploded with chef-driven food concepts and local craft beer purveyors