By: Teya Vitu October 24, 2018, Idaho Business Review
With 30 years of official urban renewal ended Sept. 30 in the heart of downtown Boise, the Capital City Development Corp (CCDC) is now simultaneously embarking on two new, very different urban renewal districts.
CCDC by the end of the year expects to launch an 194-acre Shoreline District urban renewal district to jump-start developers to build some 1,200 new housing units in the next 20 years in the River Street and Lusk neighborhoods along with adding 190,000 square-feet of office and 128,000 square feet of retail.
If all these developments comes through, the district would generate $33 million in tax increment financing over 20 years to provide support to redevelopment efforts, said Shellan Rodriguez, CCDC’s project manager for property development.
Also by the end of the year, CCDC expects to have a new Gateway East District in play with an ambition to lure some 9 million square feet of industrial, a couple hotels, and 89,000 square feet of retail to areas mostly west of Interstate 84 from Broadway to Eisenman Road. The 2,639 designated acres already have a scattering of industrial but many more hundreds of city-owned acres are undeveloped.
The Gateway East District projections would be a 25 percent increase in today’s total stock of 36 million square feet across Ada and Canyon counties, as measured by Thornton Oliver Keller Commercial Real Estate.
If these Gateway East projections hold true, that district would generate $95 million in tax increment financing, said Matt Edmond, CCDC’s project manager for capital improvements.
TOK has a count of 1,807 industrial buildings in Ada and Canyon counties with 37 million square feet. As of Sept 1, 1.17 million square feet of industrial were available.
CCDC is the city’s urban renewal agency with three active urban renewal districts in the downtown area: Westside, River Myrtle-Old Boise and 30th Street. The Central District closed Sept. 30 after a 30-year life.
The Shoreline District is rather developed, but the River Street segment has large parking lots that are lightly used and ripe for redevelopment. In the Lusk District, CCDC envisions a potential festival street on Island Avenue such as those on the Basque Block and Broad Street, and additional sidewalks.
“The Forest River parking lots are viewed as underutilized,” Rodriguez said. “We would love to find a way to work with those owners (to redevelop some surface parking lots).”
These city-sanctioned urban renewal districts generate money through tax increment financing. The tax revenue from increased property tax values is diverted to CCDC to inject into the districts by funding infrastructure, roads and sidewalks, garages and purchasing properties that can be sold to developers for low prices.
The Shoreline and Gateway areas went through exhaustive feasibility analyses, lot by lot, to ensure that every property met the state’s urban renewal requirements. A complex state formula determines whether a property qualifies for inclusion in an urban renewal district. Boiled down, these factors define a property as lacking the elements necessary to better develop an area, Rodriguez and Edmond said.
“(The feasibility analysis) concluded that it is an area that has not kept up with the growth of the areas around it,” Rodriguez said. “We are aiming to incentivize investment in a way that creates economic development, housing and placemaking.”
The Shoreline District measures 194 acres with 125 parcels. The Shoreline District is not all new. The 36 acres east of Americana were part of the 30th Street District, and another 37 acres was part of the River Myrtle-Old Boise District, two other CCDC urban renewal districts.
“In order for people to continue to invest, they need a place to park and be able to get safely from the Greenbelt,” Rodriquez said. “Having a way to invest in the district will create the place and neighborhood we want.”
The redevelopment plans call for a couple more pedestrian bridges across the Boise River more than 10 years down the road.
But the first seven proposed projects for the district’s first five years involve Lusk neighborhood streetscape improvements, moving overhead power cables underground, Boise Greenbelt path improvement and surface improvements on the Eighth Street Bridge.
The Gateway East urban renewal district would be CCDC’s first district beyond the immediate downtown Boise area.
The areas along Eisenman Road south of Boise Factory Outlets have water and sewer for basic industrial work but not to accommodate large-scale development, Edmond said.
The major proposed projects for the 20-year term are projected $60 million CCDC investments in roadway improvements.
These include widening the south end of Eisenman Road to three lanes on the east side of the railroad tracks and creating a five-lane Production Street on the west side of the tracks to link Gowen Road and the future Lake Hazel Road extension. CCDC could fund numerous industrial roads, too, Edmond said.
CCDC also plans to use tax increment financing for $10 million in sewer improvements, $15 million in water upgrades, $10 million in Idaho Power upgrades and $15 million in fiber optic/telecommunications, Edmond said.
“These are the things that can meet industrial demand,” Edmond said. “These things would be uneconomical for industrial to do themselves.”
Edmond said research determined the Gateway District could create 6,700 new industrial jobs and 125 retail jobs.
The Boyer Company of Salt Lake City will be the first new project in the new Gateway East. The company has announced intentions to build a 1 million-square-foot industrial park on 159 city-owned acres of desert scrub wrapping around two sides of WinCo’s distribution center near the Interstate 84 interchange at Eisenman Road.
Boyer has developed Utah’s largest business park in Ogden at 11.5 million square feet from the remains of a former military base. They came to Boise to have a look and were surprised by the opportunity right off I-84, according to Dave Ward, partner and project manager at Boyer
“There is very little truck traffic,” Ward said. “It is a very easy property to develop. There have to be some skeletons here. Why has somebody not developed this? The more we dug, the better it got. We feel great about the site. We never found any skeletons.”
Boyer plans to start construction on the first 50,000- to 140,000-square-foot industrial structure in spring. Ward said for now they are starting with a spec building with no leases lined up, but he is hopeful to have a tenant by groundbreaking.
Boyer does not want to be regarded in Boise as a company sitting on the land.
“We know we need momentum,” Boyer CEO Nate Boyer said. “We need to get a building going here.”
The city had bought 380 acres in 2000 along with 18 miles of Union Pacific Railroad track south of Gowen Road with ambitions to create a multi-modal industrial area. Industry, until recently, has not stepped forward in great numbers.
“It’s been a kind of windy road,” Boise Mayor David Bieter said at the Sept. 20 Boyer project launch event. “We struggled with how to handle this property. We gritted our teeth and went forward.”
Ward said the site is already served by utilities, but Edmond believes CCDC investments will come into play as Boyer progresses with developing the site.