Jack's Place would transform downtown Boise eyesore



Posted on May 23, 2009 at 4:28 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 14 at 3:23 PM

Park part of $100M project

BOISE -- A large area in downtown Boise eyed by Idaho's potato mogul for years is getting a new look.

The deal actually went through before J.R. Simplot died, and for the first time today the details are out about the project.

If you have ever driven down Myrtle Street, you have probably looked at this piece of property and thought what an eyesore, but that is all about to change starting in the spring of 2010. The Simplot family and foundation is going to give this area a completely new look.

"He really wanted this piece of land and he and my dad just never could come to an agreement," said Susie Stertz.

When Emerald Club owner Susie Stertz talks about him she is referring to J.R. Simplot and the years he spent trying to buy her father's property.

The two men last talked in 1992, and it wasn't until 2007 that the Simplots approached Stertz to buy again, and this time she agreed.

"It is going to be an asset to this area, it really is," said Stertz.

Between 9th and 11th and Myrtle and Front streets, a concrete eyesore has stood there for four decades. The site is filled with a few older buildings and a lot of weeds but will soon have a new look.

Jack's Urban Meeting Place, a new multi-purpose facility will be constructed to honor the late J.R. Simplot.

The downtown structure will use a total of 7.5 acres. It will feature a landscaped park that will have an outdoor amphitheater for movie screenings, art exhibits, weddings and dinners.

Around the park will be a multi-story structure that starts 26 feet into the air for studios, offices and parking.

"I think it is going to be good and I think Idaho needs more growth," said Al Garcia, owner Custom Flowers by AG.

The change will affect business owner Al Garcia. He will lose his current location, but he's trying to work it out so he can move back in when the new building is ready.

One property owner that isn't willing to sell is Breck Seiniger of Seiniger Law Firm.

"The property is worth more than the dirt if you will. We have a location here, know people that are our clients, we like to think that we have helped a lot of people here, so in a lot of ways this is enhanced," said Seiniger.

Seiniger has been on that corner since the early 1990s. Business has been good and he says the project will be a nice addition to what he has now.

"We thought it was a great idea and I say, just extremely generous to do it," said Seiniger.

It will take more than $100 million to make all of this happen. The parks area and parkscape will be privately funded by the Simplot Foundation, and officials say it will provide 1,000 jobs to that area, most of those contractors and trades people that they expect to come from Idaho.