Growing Garden City

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

An old school bus, painted blue, pulls up alongside a wooden fence around a sprawling mobile home park in Garden City. It’s the Garden City library’s Bells For Books bus. All day in the summer and in afternoons during the school year, it goes to some of the Treasure Valley’s poorest neighborhoods. The idea is that even though this town, almost entirely surrounded by Boise, is only four miles long it has a lot of kids who can’t get to the library.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

The neighborhood known as the Waterfront District is a game changer for Garden City. It was the first high-end housing built in the historically poor, southeast section of town. It’s the development that kicked off, what many people believe is inevitable gentrification.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

On May 14, Boise State Public Radio hosted a Community Conversation on the issue of affordable housing in the Treasure Valley. The goal was to examine how new riverfront development in Garden City could affect this important part of the region’s housing stock. The event was part of the KBSX series called “Growing Garden City."

Census

You can’t understand Garden City, Idaho without understanding that compared to the cities surrounding it, it's a place of poverty and wealth and not much in between. That was the theme of one of the stories in our recent series, Growing Garden City.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

There’s an increasing number of musicians, visual artists and artisans who have chosen to set up shop in Garden City. Many of these artists are from Boise or other parts of the Treasure Valley. The trend has been led by a few visionaries who recognize two things about the town: the cheap real estate, and plenty of space to practice their passion.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Garden City has long been known for mobile home parks and poverty. But with more than three miles of underused riverfront property, developers have become interested in Garden City's poorest area. High-end houses are now being built next to mobile homes.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Garden City is well known for being one of the poorest towns in the Treasure Valley, but it also has some of the richest neighborhoods in the area.

The Idaho Statesman

Hay fields, vegetable gardens, and slot machines: There are several milestones that mark the timeline of tiny Garden City. This four mile burg, surrounded by much larger cities like Boise, has had a stop-and-start history.

The early history of Garden City is hard to come by. We do know the land caught the eye of the U.S. Army in 1863; Idaho historian Susan Stacy says that’s when soldiers came to the Treasure Valley to build Fort Boise. And with the Army came hungry horses.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Housing development on Garden City’s riverfront has picked up as the economy has improved.  The momentum is good for local tax rolls, but it also threatens adjacent areas that are home to low-cost housing. Experts say simply replacing that housing stock won't be easy, and that many residents could be displaced with few other housing options.