Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Boise’s old MK campus is now in St. Luke’s hands. How that happened, and what it means | Idaho Statesman

For most of the 20th century, Boise was home to the mighty Morrison Knudsen Co., builder of the Hoover Dam and the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. In the 1970s, MK built a giant headquarters complex on Downtown Boise’s eastern edge to house its corporate workers.

MK is gone now, and the last few, surviving descendants of its construction-headquarters staff left the old headquarters in 2015 for the Silverstone Corporate Center in Meridian. Today’s titan of Boise business, as measured by local employment, is St. Luke’s Health System. Like the Borg in the “Star Trek: The Next Generation” TV series, St. Luke’s has been assimilating people, and buildings to put them in, as it hires an ever-rising number of Idahoans.

Now it has assimilated the MK campus, the 622,000-square-foot set of four buildings (plus a parking garage) along East Park Boulevard. The complex is twice as big as J.R. Simplot Co.’s new Downtown headquarters or the Boise Plaza, built in 1971 for another once-mighty local corporate titan, Boise Cascade Corp. (which, unlike MK, is still alive).

St. Luke’s assumed ownership of the campus Thursday, March 8, after buying it for $86.5 million from Second City Partners, a Vancouver, British Columbia, private-equity partnership. The amount is twice what Second City paid for it five years ago, according to Commercial Property Executive, a real estate news site.

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Eventually, the campus will house more than 1,500 employees, said Mary Cronin, St. Luke’s senior director of operations. That’s about 10 percent of St. Luke’s current workforce of 15,000 — the same number MK employed in 1990.

Idaho’s biggest private employer

The nonprofit health system is Idaho’s largest private employer. By comparison, Micron Technology has 6,800 employees in Idaho. Albertsons, which has 280,000 employees nationwide, has 4,700 in the state. St. Luke’s largest local competitor, Saint Alphonsus Health System, employs 5,500.

“Getting our people together is important,” Cronin said this week. “It’s important for morale, for productivity. But ultimately, consolidating is less expensive.”

The purchase was not a surprise: St. Luke’s said in October 2016 that it planned to buy the campus, which was renamed Washington Group Plaza in 2000. (After CEO William Agee helped drive MK into bankruptcy in the mid-1990s, Montana billionaire Dennis Washington bought the company and renamed it — and its headquarters — for himself.)

The state of Idaho wanted the campus, too. Like St. Luke’s, the state has a growing workforce and offices scattered through the Boise area. Washington Group Plaza is less than two miles from the Capitol. But St. Luke’s got there first, so Idaho last year bought the Hewlett-Packard campus on Chinden Boulevard instead.

Three state agencies lease space in Washington Group Plaza: the Tax Commission, the Department of Fish and Game, and the Department of Finance. Northwest Nazarene University and other tenants do, too. They will be allowed to stay until their leases expire, Cronin said.

The first to leave will be the Tax Commission’s 438 employees. St. Luke’s already has extended its lease through September to give the state time to prepare the commission’s new home on the HP campus.

The Washington Group Plaza campus on Parkcenter Boulevard east of Broadway Avenue.

Statesman file

St. Luke’s to leave 15 buildings

St. Luke’s will consider the needs of any tenants who seek to leave earlier or later than their leases specify, Cronin said. “We want to be a good neighbor,” she said.

St. Luke’s has been a tenant, too, until now. Cronin said the health system has more than 200 employees in Plaza 1, the oldest and westernmost building in the complex. It is the six-story, off-white building with the overhanging roof that is readily visible from Broadway Avenue. St. Luke’s plans to move 600 to 700 more workers onto the campus by year’s end.

“Our plan is, over the next six years, as existing tenant leases expire, to move our administrative and support teams that are located throughout Boise and Meridian into the complex,” Cronin said. The teams include billing, clinic administration and information technology.

Mary Cronin

As those workers move in, St. Luke’s will move out of at least 15 other buildings, she said. Four or five of those are on the Downtown campus of St. Luke’s flagship hospital, and they will be razed as part of the expansion and improvements St. Luke’s is making there now. That should help reduce traffic that bothers East End residents, she said.

The most prominent building St. Luke’s will leave is an old Kmart store on Americana Boulevard north of the Boise River that the hospital system has occupied for more than a decade. St. Luke’s agreed last year to sell that to Agon Sports and Entertainment, which owns the Boise Hawks. Agon has proposed to redevelop the site with a stadium and new commercial and residential buildings.

St. Luke’s also will vacate an adjacent building across Shoreline Boulevard along the river, Cronin said.

The other buildings it will vacate are small, leased commercial-building spaces scattered around Boise and Meridian.

The campus will get a new name

“The work we’ve done will allow us to reduce our expense structure per square foot around 20 percent,” Cronin said.

St. Luke’s plans to rename the plaza but hasn’t picked a name yet.

The campus is in good shape, Cronin said: “We’re very pleased with the condition of the property.”

Eventually, though, the health system plans to upgrade elevators and heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems.

“We consider this a long-term asset for our organization,” she said. “As with any building, you need to make sure you keep it updated and working in top condition.”

David Staats: 208-377-6417, @DavidStaats

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Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Boise State star snubbed in Mountain West Player of the Year voting; two Broncos honored | Idaho Statesman

If the Boise State men’s basketball team needed any further motivation going into the Mountain West Tournament, the Broncos got it Tuesday morning.

Nevada junior forward Caleb Martin was named Mountain West Player of the Year by the league’s coaches over Boise State senior guard Chandler Hutchison, who was the media’s choice for the award.

Martin led the conference in scoring by two points across the entire season, but Hutchison was the only player to rank in the top 10 in scoring, rebounding and assists. Hutchison ranks second in the Mountain West in scoring (19.5 points per game), sixth in rebounding (7.6) and seventh in assists (3.5). Only three other players are in the top 10 in two of those categories. Hutchison also is fifth in steals (1.4).

In conference games only, Hutchison led in scoring (21.9 ppg), while Martin ranked third (20.2).

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“He never padded his stats,” Boise State coach Leon Rice said of Hutchison. “We played one game, he took three shots and we won by 30 — because he only took three shots, because they chose to guard him with five guys. He impacted the game in so many ways.”

Hutchison said Saturday that he would rather leave Las Vegas with a tournament trophy than a Player of the Year award.

“It would be nice to have, definitely,” he said. “It shows that people are watching and respect what you can do, but at the same time, that’s not the goal that’s next up for me.”

Hutchison did make the all-conference first team and all-defensive team, making him the fifth Bronco in program history to earn consecutive first-team league honors. He joined Chris Childs (1987-89), Tanoka Beard (1991-93), John Coker (1994-95) and Roberto Bergersen (1998-99).

Boise State sophomore guard Alex Hobbs was named Sixth Man of the Year.

Hobbs was the Broncos’ sixth-leading scorer in league play at 7.7 points per game. He also was No. 2 on the team in assists in Mountain West competition, racking up 43 (2.4 apg). To be eligible for the award, a player must have started no more than five Mountain West games during the season.

Martin, a transfer from North Carolina State, averaged 19.5 points and 5.3 rebounds this season to help the Wolf Pack (26-6) to the Mountain West regular season title. They went 15-3 in league play, including two wins over Boise State (23-7), which went 13-5 in the conference.

Alex Hobbs was named the Mountain West’s Sixth Man of the Year.

Katherine Jones

Complete list of Mountain West honors

Player of the Year: Caleb Martin, Nevada

Defensive Player of the Year: Cody Martin, Nevada

Newcomer of the Year: Caleb Martin, Nevada

Sixth Man of the Year: Alex Hobbs, Boise State

Freshman of the Year: Brandon McCoy, UNLV

Coach of the Year: Eric Musselman, Nevada

First Team

Chandler Hutchison, Boise State

Deshaun Taylor, Fresno State

Jordan Caroline, Nevada

Caleb Martin, Nevada

Justin James, Wyoming

Second Team

Cody Martin, Nevada

Malik Pope, San Diego State

Shakur Juiston, UNLV

Brandon McCoy, UNLV

Hayden Dalton, Wyoming

Third Team

Bryson Williams, Fresno State

Kendall Stephens, Nevada

Anthony Mathis, New Mexico

Koby McEwen, Utah State

Sam Merrill, Utah State

Honorable Mention

Nico Carvacho, Colorado State

Antino Jackson, New Mexico

Jalen McDaniels, San Diego State

Ryan Welage, San Jose State

All-Defense Team

Chandler Hutchison, Boise State

Deshon Taylor, Fresno State

Lindsey Drew, Nevada

Cody Martin, Nevada

Antino Jackson, New Mexico

Alan Herndon, Wyoming

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Wednesday, 28 February 2018

New ‘Naked’ seafood restaurant to open in Boise | Idaho Statesman

Fins Concepts co-owner Derek Hood isn’t ready to bare his soul about Naked Fins, a new restaurant he’s planning to unveil in Boise on Broadway Avenue.

But he does share a hint. About the naked part.

“It’s not Twin Peaks — don’t worry,” Hood says with a laugh, referring to the “breastaurant” sports-bar chain with a location near the Boise Spectrum.

Slated to debut this summer, Naked Fins, 1120 S. Broadway Ave., will be a fast-casual dining destination with a seafood focus, Hood says. It will be in a former Subway sandwich shop space.

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Naked Fins follows in the culinary footsteps of other Fins Concepts restaurants — Lucky Fins Grill and Smokin Fins Grill.

“It’s kind of a hybrid off Lucky Fins, and it’s a little bit of everything,” Hood says. “I think it will be well-received.”

The first Lucky Fins opened at 1441 N. Eagle Road in 2011 in Meridian. Smokin Fins debuted in 2015 in Littleton, Colorado. Lucky Fins offers seafood, sushi, burgers and sandwiches. Smokin Fins adds house-smoked options such as ribs, turkey and pork.

Naked Fins should be open by July or August, Hood says.

Don’t want to wait that long for a taste of seafood? Check out Lucky Fins in Meridian or Downtown Boise, or in Greeley, Colorado. There are Smokin Fins locations in Fort Collins, Littleton and Arvada, Colorado, as well as in Chandler, Arizona. A Smokin Fins should open in Idaho Falls by fall, Hood adds.


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Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Idaho senator shouts at students lobbying for birth control

Idaho senator shouts at students lobbying for birth control More

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A Republican state senator who shouted at University of Idaho students in the Capitol to lobby for a birth control bill on Monday now faces an ethics complaint after a tweet from an account presenting as the lawmaker’s directed students to discuss "killing babies" with a Democratic colleague.

State Sen. Maryanne Jordan filed the complaint against Republican state Sen. Dan Foreman.

"It’s one thing to disagree with policy, it’s another thing to position something like that against another lawmaker," Jordan said in response to the tweet Monday. "This type of behavior is beneath the Idaho Senate."

Ethics complaints against lawmakers are typically anonymous, so while Jordan confirmed she is filing a complaint, she did not disclose many details what would be included in the complaint.

After the complaint was filed, the roughly year-old unverified Twitter account was temporarily deleted. It was reactivated briefly to state it was not affiliated with Foreman. A message seeking comment with the account manager was not immediately returned.

As of Monday night, the account remained deleted.

Foreman did not immediately return requests for comment.

A dozen students, who had traveled nearly 300 miles (483 kilometers) from the Moscow campus, were in Boise for a scheduled meeting with Foreman to lobby for a bill that would allow women to receive up to a 12-month supply of prescribed birth control and promote better sex education on college campuses.

Foreman abruptly canceled the meeting Monday morning.

The group left a note and condoms in his office before moving onto other scheduled meetings with lawmakers from northern Idaho regions.

Later that day, the Republican from Moscow passed the students in a hallway and several people recorded him shouting, "Abortion is murder."

"I’m a Roman Catholic and a conservative Republican. I think what you guys are doing stinks," Foreman says on the video.

The students were not at the Capitol to talk about abortion, said Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho public affairs director Paul Dillon. They were present to encourage lawmakers to vote in favor of the birth control and sex education bill.

Other meetings with state lawmakers were peaceful, Dillon said, even if the lawmakers disagreed with the students’ talking points.

Sen. Bob Nonini, a Republican from Coeur d’Alene, waved a rosary while talking to students about abstinence but did not shout or demean them, Dillon said.

Dillon described Foreman as "completely unhinged."

"Even if you disagree with what we have to say, there’s no excuse for that kind behavior," Dillon said in a phone interview. "He was being a bully."

The unverified Twitter account sent several tweets concerning Planned Parenthood and abortion in the hours that followed.

This isn’t the first time Foreman has been recorded having an outburst. Last year, bodycam video from the Latah County Sheriff’s Department showed Foreman swearing and shouting insults with an unseen and unidentified male on Sept. 14 — the first day of the county fair in Moscow.

"Go straight to hell, you son of a bitch," Foreman can be heard saying in the footage.

The deputy then asked Foreman to move along.

Foreman has also faced scrutiny over an email response to a constituent’s concerns over climate change. Foreman called global warming "nonsense" and said it was a scam used by left-wing fanatics to raise taxes.


This story has been updated to reflect that the tweet that sparked the ethics complaint came from an unverified account.

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Tuesday, 13 February 2018

From ‘soft, immature, entitled’ to the ‘best player in Boise State history’

Two years before he would become his coach, Phil Beckner met with Chandler Hutchison as a favor to a friend.

Hutchison was a 6-foot-7, 170-pound freshman guard for the Boise State men’s basketball team, and coach Leon Rice and assistant coach Jeff Linder thought Beckner could provide Hutchison with some pointers.

“I could tell he was really, really talented, but just kind of questioned what most people questioned about him. How serious is this kid about basketball? How serious is he about being a real player some day?” said Beckner, who was then an assistant coach in the NBA Development League.

“After I’d met him and talked to him, I knew he was really, really smart. He was a great kid who had a whole lot of talent, but at the end of the day I was like: ‘I don’t know if he wants to be really good or not. I don’t know how serious he is about basketball and his future.’ ”

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When Linder and another assistant left Boise State after the 2015-16 season, Rice added Beckner to the Broncos’ coaching staff — and he went to work on Hutchison.

“I don’t think that I’d be where I am right now if (Beckner) doesn’t wind up coming here two years ago,” said Hutchison, who now weighs about 200 pounds. “It’s really a crazy story.”

[Nevada at Boise State, 9 p.m. Wednesday (ESPNU)]

Hutchison is now five Mountain West Conference regular-season games — and, potentially, a historic postseason — away from finishing his Boise State career. He leads the Broncos in points (20.3), rebounds (7.6), assists (3.4) and steals (1.3) and set a single-game, school record with 44 points against San Diego State on Jan. 13.

Many experts believe Hutchison has the potential to be a first-round pick in this June’s NBA Draft, and the first Boise State player selected since Roberto Bergersen in 1999.

But it took Beckner’s belief and a trusting leap from Hutchison to get him there.

“I think he and I would both agree that I did want it more for him at times … but that’s also been a weakness of mine as a coach,” Beckner said. “… The reason why, truly, whether it’s deeply emotional, whatever, is I knew he had it in him. I knew he could be really, really special, and I didn’t want him to waste that opportunity and live a life of regret.”


Beckner began having one-on-one meetings with his new players in the spring before the start of the 2016-17 season — Hutchison’s junior year.

Hutchison averaged 6.8 points and 4.1 rebounds with seven starts as a sophomore. Rice said Hutchison showed flashes of the talent he possessed, but never on a consistent basis.

“I really think he was living with a false sense of reality,” Beckner said of his first conversations with Hutchison. “I asked him, ‘Do you think you can make the NBA?’ And he’s like, ‘Yeah.’ ‘Do you think you’re going to be a really good player here?’ He’s like, ‘Yeah, I’m going to be really good.’ ‘Do you think you’re going to start next year?’ And he’s like, ‘Oh yeah, I’m going to start.’ But he wasn’t working.”

Internally, Hutchison says he knew he hadn’t committed fully to being his best. He often would back down from challenges when they seemed too intimidating. He wanted more, but he didn’t know how to get there.

“That was probably the hardest thing, was making him understand that you can’t get there if it’s a part-time job,” Rice said. “You can’t get there if you’re 85 percent in and you want to go float the river and do 50 other things. You’ve got to make a choice, and his choices were going to dictate how good a player he became, and that’s where it started and that’s where Phil was willing to fight on a daily basis for that for him.”

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Boise State senior Chandler Hutchison destroyed a one-handed, alley-oop dunk against Sacramento State on Saturday at Taco Bell Arena. The Broncos won 77-54. (Video courtesy of Boise State)


Beckner and Hutchison viewed each other with skepticism the first few months.

They didn’t really know each other yet, and that made things uncomfortable, especially for Hutchison.

“When I met him, it was almost kind of intimidating at first because he’s a no-BS guy,” Hutchison said. “He’s straightforward. He’ll tell you the truth whether you like it or not.”

The truth might have been too much for Hutchison at times, so Beckner had to learn to bite his tongue.

Beckner recalls one day in particular when the two were working on a drill that required Hutchison to shoot from awkward positions.

“He would miss shots and he would giggle afterwards,” Beckner said. “I had to get past that. If I’m going to reach this kid or help him, I can’t just kill him for giggling right now. I can’t walk off the court and be like: ‘You’re too soft. Soft guys giggle.’ He and I both had to get past a lot of that stuff.”


Rice recruited Hutchison from Mission Viejo (Calif.) High.

Players from that area are sometimes called “Orange County soft,” and Hutchison might have been.

Hutchison hasn’t always been the go-to guy in the closing minutes of a tight game like he is now. He wasn’t always the player bringing teammates together in the huddle. He didn’t always lead by example.

As a freshman and sophomore, Hutchison deferred to the older, more developed players on the team.

“I always kind of felt sorry for him having to deal with (former star Anthony) Drmic every day,” Rice said. “Drmic didn’t play basketball to see who was better at basketball, he played to see who was tougher. So every day at practice was a toughness test for Chandler, and I don’t think he was quite ready for the Drmic treatment right away.”

If Hutchison was going to become an NBA-caliber player, being soft wouldn’t cut it, and Beckner wasn’t going to tiptoe around the issue.

“When I got here, he had a lot of those labels — soft, immature, entitled, those type of things. We would spend time talking about those labels and how to dispel them. We would spend time talking about: ‘You know what? You are a little soft. You are a lot soft,’ ” Beckner said. “We were able to develop that relationship and that trust, and I think what I was willing to do vs. some other people in his life or other critics or whatever was I was willing to accept those labels with him, but then try to fight them for him.”


Hutchison began to buy into Beckner’s development plan his junior year. He started all 32 games, led the Broncos with 17.4 points and 7.8 rebounds per game and was named to the All-Mountain West first team.

Then he declared for the 2017 NBA Draft and worked out for several NBA teams before deciding to return to Boise State for his senior season.

There was still more work to be done.

“I realized nothing’s going to be given to me,” Hutchison said.

That’s when Beckner knew his pupil understood.

“This is what truly makes him special. How many 20-, 21-year-olds are willing to look at their deficiencies and say: ‘I am not going to lose self-esteem. I am not going to lose confidence. I am going to fight these and break these and in turn it’s going to make me an NBA player someday,’ ” Beckner said. “ ‘In turn it’s going to make me the best player in the history of Boise State basketball.’ ”

Boise State senior Chandler Hutchison says he doesn’t know what he’d do without basketball. “It’s something that’s made me the happiest I’ve ever been but also made me completely broken,” he said.

Katherine Jones


The 2018 NBA Draft isn’t until June 21.

That’s more than four months away, and Hutchison has a more immediate goal. At his heart, he has always been a team player.

That’s why Hutchison can score 44 points in one game and lead the Broncos in assists the next.

“Chandler, he can get 30 (points) any time he wants,” Boise State sophomore Marcus Dickinson said. “But he’s probably the most unselfish person I’ve ever played with.”

Leading the league in scoring or being named the Mountain West Player of the Year isn’t what matters to Hutchison.

Boise State never has reached the final of the Mountain West men’s basketball tournament or won a game in the NCAA Tournament. Hutchison has made both realistic goals this year.

“For me, the goal that’s right in front of me is just finishing the season with a Mountain West championship. That’s honestly the biggest thing,” Hutchison said. “It’s tough for me sometimes to talk about the next level with the whole NBA talk and things like that because for me, I see that as so far down the road. It’s something that’s going to come eventually, and I just want to take it for where I am right now, which is an opportunity to win the league.”

While Hutchison may not be ready to talk about the NBA, his coaches and teammates know this “special” 2017-18 season is disappearing faster than they would like.

The Broncos only have three more home games — Nevada (Wednesday), Air Force (Saturday) and Wyoming (March 3).

Sooner or later, Hutchison will have to hand in his No. 15 jersey.

“I’ve always had that same support circle. People praying for me, family always on my side that always saw the bigger vision for me and always saw it even when I didn’t, believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself,” Hutchison said. “It makes it a lot easier to see this as just a plan bigger than myself that has always kind of been there, but also at the same time I want to see it and be like, ‘If I didn’t make these decisions, no matter who was in my corner, it might not have happened.’ ”

That’s why Beckner believed and Hutchison took that leap.

Rachel Roberts: 208-377-6422, @byrachelroberts

What others are saying

The praise for Chandler Hutchison isn’t limited to the Boise State locker room. Hutchison also has caught the attention of draft experts and Mountain West opponents:

Jeremy Woo, Projects Hutchison at No. 16 in this year’s NBA Draft. “He’s a strong passer, continues to improve working off the dribble and puts his athleticism to use, drawing fouls at a high clip.”Jonathan Givony, Moved Hutchison from 40th to 16th. “He has outstanding physical tools and is a much improved ball-handler and perimeter shooter.”Jonathan Wasserman, In his latest projections, Wasserman puts Hutchison at No. 12. “Turning heads with his mix of athleticism, ball-handling and attacking.”Marvin Menzies, UNLV coach: “He has a lot of positive attributes. He plays with a lot of passion. He plays with a lot of energy, and not just on the offensive end. He’s a talented scorer at different levels, and he’s a tough guard. He’s a tough out. He’s the kind of kid that you want to recruit. Guys like that that just seem to be solid all the way around.”Ryan Blake, NBA scouting consultant for Marty Blake & Associates: “The evaluation that we see now is very intriguing. We want to see him in another environment to prove that he’s worth that chance.”Abe Jackson, Bronco Radio Network analyst: “What you’re watching now could be the greatest single season in Boise State history.”

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Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Sprawl threatens this piece of Boise’s fringe. Could it bring the next Bown Crossing?

Mark Hoffman bought a four-wheel-drive Toyota Highlander so he can go off-road and escape a wildfire should the one road in and out of his neighborhood be blocked. He keeps a pair of wire cutters under the driver’s seat so he can cut through metal fences.

A retired school teacher and administrator, Hoffman lived through a 1996 fire in Alaska that burned almost 40,000 acres north of Anchorage. He lived in Prescott, Arizona, in 2013 when the nearby Yarnell Hill wildfire killed 19 firefighters.

“I’m pretty sensitive to the fire danger,” Hoffman said.

He’s not the only one. Wildfire also worries Hoffman’s neighbors off Columbia Road east of the Micron Technology headquarters in Boise’s southeast corner — an area dominated by desert brush. Those worries contributed to the city’s decision to halt, at least temporarily, developer Jim Conger’s plan to have the city annex 110 acres in the area so he can build 430 houses there. Fire experts said relying on Columbia Road as the only way in and out of Conger’s subdivision would be too risky.

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Conger’s project put a spotlight on development challenges on the Columbia Bench, the area roughly bordered by Interstate 84 on the west, Gowen Road on the north, the cliffs above the Boise River on the east, and a straight line stretching east from I-84’s Eisenman Road-Memory Road interchange on the south. Most of the land is outside city limits but inside Boise’s area of impact, meaning its annexation is expected.

For years, the city has looked to Columbia Bench as one of its next major swaths of land for development. Built to the density of Boise’s Central Bench, the area could someday be home to more than 30,000 people, City Councilwoman Elaine Clegg said. She and other city leaders want to move past the piecemeal annexation and planning that has occurred there so far and develop a long-term, detailed plan for roads, housing, commercial space, parks, schools and pathways.

“One would hope, over time, that it would develop not homogeneously but really heterogeneously, with all kinds of income levels and types of housing, types of retail,” Clegg said. “I would foresee at least one … relatively large, community-serving retail-commercial center and a number of smaller ones.”

The Columbia Bench area, in red, is more than 6 square miles of mostly county land that would be annexed by Boise.


The beginnings of a plan are in place already. Over the past couple of years, Boise has worked to create a rough outline for developing Columbia Bench.

Last March, the city published “East Columbia Interim Development Guidelines,” which list goals like “environmental stewardship,” “orderly development” and “efficient and connected multimodal roadway system” — concepts City Hall tries to apply everywhere. It lists few objectives specific to Columbia Bench’s future. Boise Planning Director Hal Simmons said the city needs to fill in details.

“What we don’t have is total agreement as to the distribution of uses, where commercial and activity centers ought to be,” Simmons said.

Three subdivisions are being completed along Columbia Road. They include Painted Ridge, about 2 miles east of I-84 on the south side of Columbia, where Hoffman lives; Sunny Ridge, a few hundred feet east of Painted Ridge; and Bonneville Pointe, north of Columbia and just east of Sunny Ridge.

They make up a tiny percentage of Columbia Bench, yet residents already complain about traffic and safety.

One key will be to get agreement from Micron, Simplot and members of the Simplot family, which together own about 6 square miles in the area; the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, which wants to protect wildlife; Idaho Power, which owns a major transmission corridor through the area; and Ada County, which still governs most of the land because it is outside city limits.

“The City Council has been increasingly concerned that we’ve sort of been nickel-and-diming the area with these little subdivisions without getting a plan for the whole area adopted,” Simmons said. “We do believe that, at some point, it will become a priority to both Micron or the Simplots to work with the city on that.”

Clegg said it might make sense for Boise to write a master plan to establish general expectations, such as the number of homes in Columbia Bench and how much commercial, open and recreational space will be there. More specific plans for portions of the area could map future locations of those amenities, anticipate zoning classifications and predict when the amenities will be built. Today, most of the land is zoned for low-density development.


Hoffman welcomes the idea of long-term planning. So do his Painted Ridge neighbors Deedra Pearson and Margaret Bushee.

Pearson said new roads are her top priority as new homes go up. Columbia Road, a two-lane country road, is a popular jogging and bicycling route for Micron employees, and people who drive it worry about hitting the employees with their cars.

Pearson also would like an escape route or two in a wildfire. Her worst-case scenario is that “we have 800 houses out here and it’s one road in and out.”

Bushee said Boise could learn from Austin, Texas, where she grew up “when it looked a lot like Boise.”

“It’s a university town, river going through it,” she said. “Nobody really knew much about it. It’s the state capital. Same kind of vibe. … It had tremendous growth. They didn’t plan for it well. The traffic is crazy now.”

Everyone agrees Columbia Bench needs more roads before much more development occurs — at least along Columbia Road. But roads are expensive.

Typically, developers pay to build the ones that circulate traffic inside their subdivisions and connect to the larger transportation network. They then give the roads to the Ada County Highway District, which controls and maintains them. That cost can put the original developer at a disadvantage, because competitors might save money by using some of the same roads to access later projects.

Clegg said it might be possible for the highway district to build a skeleton transportation network on its own dime and recover its costs through impact fees that developers pay. That could expedite the construction of roads and spread their cost more fairly. For example, the district used impact fees to recover some of its cost for the East ParkCenter Bridge, which connects Harris Ranch to the rest of Boise.

“As a planner, I can’t see my way clear to approve really any further development unless we figure out something along those lines,” Clegg said.

Highway district commissioner Paul Woods said the same end might be achieved through other means, such as additional property taxes or voter-approved debt.

“How do we advance the improvement of the infrastructure and not have it lag by 20 years?” Woods said. “We’re definitely open to having that conversation.”


In separate interviews, Hoffman and Bushee brought up Bown Crossing, a multi-use development in Southeast Boise that includes multifamily housing, office space, restaurants and a branch library, as the kind of activity center that Columbia Bench deserves. Bushee said she’d like to have something like that within walking distance of her home.

“That’s a good example of well-done commercial [development],” she said. “It looks really attractive. It looks like a little village. And it adds to the feeling of the neighborhood.”

Hoffman worries Columbia Bench will become more like neighborhoods in West Boise or southwest of the city that have broad, unbroken tracts of housing and few homes within walking distance of a park or commercial services.

“Now where would you rather live?” he said. “Would you rather live in Hyde Park? Would you rather live in Harris Ranch? Would you rather live in Bown Crossing? Or would you rather live in West Boise off Maple Grove? Simple question for me.”


Projects like Painted Ridge, Sunny Ridge, Bonneville Pointe and Conger’s 430-home Rush Valley might stress out neighbors right now, but they could pressure Micron and Simplot to get involved with a plan for Columbia Bench, Clegg said. The two companies say they’re willing to talk.

Neither the J.R. Simplot Co. nor the Simplot family has plans to develop their roughly 2,000 acres in Columbia Bench, spokesman Ken Dey said.

“We’re not going to commit to anything, but we’re happy to have a conversation with the city,” Dey said.

A Micron spokesman said the chipmaker hasn’t “made any announcements on plans for further development of the campus at this point.”

“Micron is committed to working with the city of Boise on development planning that addresses infrastructure, transportation and other needs to ensure that Boise continues to be a great place to live and work for Micron team members,” spokesman Marc Musgrove said in an email.

Clegg said she hopes to work toward an agreement between the city, Micron, Simplot and other stakeholders over the next year. In 2019, she said, she’d like to see at least part of a new plan committed to paper.

“I don’t have any illusions that you’re going to walk in and say, ‘OK, we all agree that this is the direction we should go or not go,’ ” Clegg said. “I think it’ll take some time to make sure all the players can agree on a direction first.”

Sven Berg: 208-377-6275, @SvenBerg51

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Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Idaho lawmakers introduce $200M tax cut plan

MGN Online

BOISE, Idaho (AP) – Idaho lawmakers have ushered in a $200 million tax cut plan as the first tax relief proposal of the 2018 legislative session.

House Majority Leader Mike Moyle said Tuesday the proposal is one of the largest tax reduction bills ever proposed in Idaho’s history.

The legislation is designed to offset the Republican tax overhaul that President Donald Trump signed into law last month.

If approved, the plan would reduce personal income and corporate tax rates and create a $130 Idaho child tax credit.

Idaho lawmakers are feeling pressure to pass some sort of sweeping tax relief plan this year because currently taxpayers are estimated to pay roughly $100 million more in taxes due to the federal tax plan’s changes.

The House Revenue and Taxation Committee introduced the bill Tuesday. It must now pass a full hearing.

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