On the Trail to the Future


by Pamela Kleibrink Thompson

photography by Ken Levy

If you are like many in the Treasure Valley, you probably drive or have driven through Garden City on your way to or from downtown Boise. But some are discovering that Garden City is also a worthwhile destination in and of itself, with a distinct culture that offers up a vibrant and growing community. Those who call Garden City home enjoy the proximity to Boise, Meridian, and Eagle, while also enjoying an unparalleled variety of quality housing choices.

Located in the Boise River plain, Garden City is experiencing a transformation. Jenah Thornborrow, AICP Development Services Director of Garden City, notes that “Garden City has a  terrific Mayor, City Council, and talented staff. It also has a very dedicated and gifted community.” Thornborrow notes that many community members volunteer and “put an incredible amount of effort into making their community better.” Besides strong leadership, Garden City also attracts a significant number of artisans, such as traditional artists, wineries, and small scale food producers, as well as forward-thinking ideas like green technologies and the famed Reuseum.  Garden City is also home to Idaho Media Publishing, publisher of Eagle Magazine and Greenbelt Magazine; and while we don’t mean to brag, we think these are some of the finer publications offered in the Treasure Valley.

“[Garden City is] almost like a future mini Portland in the middle of the Treasure Valley. It’s home to Idaho’s Bounty—a co-op of producers, farmers and customers run by a man who used to be on Broadway, the 44 wine district, breweries, Visual Arts Collective, Acme Bakeshop, the Riverside Hotel, Enso, Surel’s Place, and much more. Not only is it home to some great and unique businesses, but it is home to a wide variety of people,” states Thornborrow. “There is a mix of beautiful new upscale homes as well as new, quality affordable housing. We are seeing a design trend of ‘Garden City industrial’ with homes along the river often rising as high as three stories to capitalize on the northern views of Bogus Basin. This area surrounds the white water park and is a five minute ride down the greenbelt to downtown Boise.”

Thornborrow provides a glimpse of one residential development. “Trailwinds is an affordable housing project that is located near the Boys and Girls club, Anser Charter School, and Riverfront Park.”  Trailwinds is located on 42nd Street, in an area that Garden City is revitalizing. “Not only will the project be a great affordable alternative just off the greenbelt, but they have also proposed  street and infrastructure improvements.”

Treasure Valley development firm VCD, headed by Vince Spagnolo, Chance Hobbs, and Doug Crowther will install new water and sewer lines estimated to cost about $300,000. Garden City plans to repay VCD for the infrastructure through tax-increment financing.

“Infrastructure improvements don’t happen quickly,” recognizes Mayor John Evans. “Our Urban Renewal Area District has been used to drastically improve infrastructure in a critical area of our city, located next to a crucial environmental and aesthetic area for the whole region—the Boise River.”

Private, affordable housing for the working middle class is the goal of the $11 million first phase of VCD’s Trailwinds project which includes 64 apartments in a three story, 68,000 square foot wood framed L-shaped building. Planned amenities include a community room with a big screen, a computer center, and outdoor patios for grilling, as well as private balconies. Expected completion of the Trailwinds project’s first phase is summer 2015.

Trailwinds rents will depend on a tenant’s income, ranging from $390-$675 for a one-bedroom apartment, $470 to $825 for a 2 bedroom, and $540 to $875 for a 3 bedroom. Tenants must prove they earn 40% to 60% of the area’s median income.

If you are looking for an eclectic community with an eye on the future, Garden City might pleasantly surprise you.

For more information about development in Garden City contact Jenah E. Thornborrow, AICP Development Services Director at (208) 472-2924 Fax: (208) 472-2926 or visit www.gardencityidaho.org.