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Lisa Brown

Big Takeaways from my Visit to Boise

Lisa Brown, Mayor, 509.625.6250

Monday, April 1, 2024 at 4:55 p.m.

Big Takeaways from my Visit to Boise

Earlier this month, I led a small delegation of Spokane leaders to Boise to explore the City of Trees’ strategies for economic development, public safety, housing, and downtown activation.

Despite the inherent differences between our cities in terms of geography, landscape, and workforce, I was pleasantly surprised by the similarities we discovered. It was also heartening to meet several people with deep ties to both Boise and Spokane.

Mayor Brown in Boise

During our visit, we met with various entities, including the Downtown Boise Association, Capital City Development Corporation, and City Arts and History Department. While discussing their contributions to citywide enhancements, several key lessons emerged that I believe can be replicated in Spokane.

The first is Boise's innovative approach to transportation in the downtown core. By transitioning from surface parking lots to structured parking, Boise has transformed former lots into housing, hubs for businesses, dining, and recreational spaces. Additionally, their commitment to protected bike infrastructure, complete with concrete barriers, impressed me as a model worth pursuing.

Another noteworthy aspect was Boise’s effective neighborhood resource officer program, which has fostered strong connections between law enforcement and local businesses, workers, and community members.

Mayor Brown in Boise

Perhaps the biggest takeaway from our trip was Boise’s concentrated efforts on downtown activation. From revitalizing historic buildings to creating pedestrian-only streets and hosting diverse community events, Boise exemplifies a city committed to fostering vibrant public spaces.

Boise is building thousands of housing units downtown, which is the key to activation and thriving retail spaces. I also enjoyed their notable emphasis on public art and historic landmarks. Clean, well-lit alleys with art have opened up more activated space in their compact downtown.

Witnessing the permanent closure of 8th street to vehicles underscored Boise’s dedication to creating dynamic, business-friendly environments. Moreover, we discussed the creative economy as an engine of economic growth and experienced it ourselves at the launch of the five-day Treefort Musical Festival. I see great opportunity for Spokane to host similar events that engage people of all ages.  

Overall, my time in Boise demonstrated promising opportunities for Spokane to pursue similar initiatives that foster new development, cultivate inclusive public spaces, and celebrate our community.

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