ADA COUNTY -- Build it and they will come! The Avimor community in the foothills north of Boise continues to boom.
As more rooftops pop up, developers feel it's time to bring in some businesses, which may be welcome news for people who live there as well as travelers heading to and from the mountains. In just a few weeks - nearly a decade after the first homes were built at Avimor - crews will put shovels in the dirt and build the first retail development in the planned community off Highway 55.
A sprawling 23,000 acres and 35 square miles, Avimor's property spans both sides of the highway in the foothills above Eagle.
"Our property is from Hidden Springs up the highway both sides to the top of the hill going down to Horseshoe Bend," Dan Richter, managing member of Avimor Investment Group, said. "All the way over to Eagle Road."
Developers set out with a 30-year plan to turn vast sage brush-covered hills into a whole new town with not just houses, but shops and businesses. But that plan was put on hold for years after the economy tanked and America faced the Great Recession.
"When 2007 came we just dimmed the lights and kept the parks mowed," Richter told KTVB. "Lit up the sign again when the economy got better."
But now, the community and construction is thriving.
"This was supposed to happen much earlier," Richter added. "What you're seeing now is what we call 'The Village.' That's the first village at Avimor because we have some commercial property."
The very first business is set to break ground at Avimor late July or early August, and will be a Mobil service gas station and an On the Fly convenience store. The convenience store will be large and neighborhood-friendly, offering an ice cream bar, fried chicken, groceries and more.
"With the highway traffic going north on the weekends, filling up gas, picking up some supplies. Then our community then going in for their milk and their eggs," Richter said.
Richter says they hope to have the store and gas station up and running in the late fall or winter. Then, if and when permitting is approved, construction on the Spring Creek Brewing Company and pizzeria will begin. Developers hope to have the restaurant and brewery open early next year.
"We wanted them to be successful. We got to have the homes there, got to have the rooftops that are going to support it. We can't depend on just the highway and drive by's."
This first phase aligns with the longtime landowners' vision, who Richter says are also partners in the Avimor group.
"They've got their idea of what they want: They want a small-town feel community. And that's what these businesses are about as well."
Richter tells KTVB there are about 300 homes in Avimor now; the 30-year master plan includes 10,000 homes. As part of that plan, developers are gearing up to build several live-work spaces in the heart of town, as well as affordable workforce housing. And as they build north, they plan to construct attached homes and apartments.
"We'll go to the other side of the road in the next couple years," Richter added. "Eventually, that'll be 30 years from now where we finish up."
As Avimor expands and more businesses and homes are built in different "villages" and neighborhood pockets, Richter says roads will have to be constructed, improved or expanded. He says developers plan to cover their impact on infrastructure.
Homes in the area are diverse and range in price: developers say houses currently available in Avimor run anywhere from about $250,000 to $800,000, with homes priced at more than $1 million in the works for fall.
Avimor will develop both the convenience store/gas station and the brewery/restaurant. According to the Idaho Business Review, Architecture Northwest of Nampa is the architect for the convenience store/gas station, while Cole Architects of Boise is spearheading architecture for the Spring Creek Brewery Co.