State of 208: Is Boise growing up, or out?

Boise has a good problem.

It’s a popular place to call home, but the challenge facing the city now is keeping pace with the rapid growth. The Capitol City seems to consistently pop up on top ten lists for great places to live, but at what cost?

With property being gobbled up by residential developers, this week’s “State of 208” looks at how the city is being forced to weigh sprawl versus tall. Boise City Councilman TJ Thomson says the “city of trees” is the worst kept secret in America right now. As far as which direction to go, Thomson points out that the foothills are a limiting factor: “As you can see behind me, there’s not a lot of space to go in that direction. We have to continue to look at areas of opportunity such as the south and southeast. I think it’s the best opportunity if we tag along with improvements to transportation and folks being able to get around.”

Which takes us to Rush Valley in Southeast Boise — a 410-home development near Micron. The city council finally gave the project a green light but says it must start on a limited scale, until the developer can make needed road improvements. Jim Conger says, “The project approval was for the 420 homes. The initial 110 homes can be built while existing infrastructure and a secondary access is reviewed and studied.”

Conger, an experienced Idaho builder, knows the city will eventually grow out of options and says looking to the south and east makes a lot of sense.

If you ask the mayor’s office, they’re quick to tell you where the future growth is headed. City spokesman Mike Journee says it’s up. Journee added, “Over the last three or four years, only 40 percent of the housing applications that get approved are for single family housing. The rest would be for townhomes, apartments, and condos.”

And that takes us to affordability. Low inventory means prices are on the rise.

So whether it’s up, or out, Boise needs to grow to meet the demand responsibly. Hopefully, it will be done in a way that we can all be proud of.

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