BOISE -- Ladies and gentlemen, it's time for Boise to say goodbye to the hole in the ground!
Boise Mayor Dave Bieter's words echoed through downtown Boise on Monday, as a new building was announced at 8th and Main streets.
It looked like a pep rally in downtown Boise as business leaders from Boise and the entire region announced the ambitious project.
Please tear down that wall, with apologies to President Reagan, and build this wonderful building! said Bieter.
But, we've seen all this before. Fourteen years ago, a developer unveiled plans for a 22-story building with condos and retail space on the same spot. It was going to be called the Boise Tower.
They started building it, but ran out of money. The resulting hole in the ground has been an eyesore for almost a decade and-a-half, right in the middle of downtown Boise.
There will never be confidence in downtown Boise as long as that hole exists, said Kem Gardner, Chairman of the Gardner Company.
Other developers came forward with plans, but those never got off the ground. The land has changed hands numerous times, and it will now be in the hands of developer Gardner Company and Zions Bank who will use this as their Idaho headquarters.
Bieter was beaming. Every time I've spoken publicly in the past eight years, inevitably the hand goes up, and the question comes, 'Well mayor, what are you going to do about the hole in the ground?' Well, now you can see behind me what's going to happen.
Zions and Gardners are promising, like others have, an impressive structure. They say it will be 15-stories tall, with office space, retail, parking, and a community room, all worth $70 million.
So, what's different this time?
I can understand their skepticism, said Gardner. But I just ask them to look at the parties that are involved this time.
Zions Bank will be a part-owner, and they've already approved the funds.
We have the capital to make it happen, said Scott Anderson, President and CEO of Zions Bank. So I think with the support of the city, everything is coming together, and it will happen.
Also, Gardner Company has already developed a couple buildings in Meridian and Nampa.
I've financed over a billion-and-a-half of commercial projects in the Intermountain West, and I'm not too worried about this one, said Gardner.
Lucy has pulled that football away from us a couple of times here. So, we were really careful, said Bieter. In a couple years, this is going to be, not only not a hole in the ground, but one of the feature buildings in downtown Boise.
The builders are hoping to get the building permits in a few weeks, plan to break ground in the spring, and complete the structure in the fall of 2013.