May 24, 2011

From Friends of McEuen:

Filed under: General — mary @ 8:00 am

WE NEED your help!  Attend this meeting and bring your friends and like minded supporters…Car pool to the meeting at Woodland Tuesday May 24th at 6 pm. 

We will have signs ready at the door….Public Vote….Save the Boat Launch…Save the Ball Fields….Save the small town charm….Save the $$$$

To everyone who plans to speak at the council meeting..ASK THE COUNCIL TO NOT APPROVE THE PLAN AS IS…TABLE IT AND PUT IT TO AN “ADVISORY” PUBLIC VOTE!

This is the MOST important meeting yet.  The council will vote Yes or No on the proposed plan.  Spread the word!  Forward this email!

— from Rita Sims-Snyder & Julie Clark, Friends of McEuen

“McEuen is a Gem…Polish it Don’t Demolish It”

Take the Friends of McEuen Survey


  1. With all due respect, Dan, there was nothing charming about downtown CDA in the late 1980s. The Silver Lake Mall had sucked all of the remaining life out of downtown, including Pennys. As locals said, you couldn’t buy a shirt downtown anymore. Even Hagadone saw the trend and turned his Plaza Shops (where Pennys used to be) inward and toward the Resort rather than acknowledge he was part of that dead area.

    By the early ’90s when I became Finance Director, it was apparent that something needed to be done to remake downtown. So the property owners assessed themselves a very high LID for street improvements, including the current niceties on Sherman and Lakeside from 1st to 8th. We also did away with metered parking downtown and created the two-hour free thing to discourage people to hogging the street all day and get a better flow of traffic.

    That was a start. But it was not enough. The City needed a draw to downtown so people would want to live there. Maybe we recognized the new urban millionaire that could be attracted (I don’t have to tell you about the craze) or the $8 trillion in wealth about to flow from our Dad’s generation to us, but clearly downtown urban living was part of the idea. So began the process to identify a plan, including raising building height limitations, and later on the urban renewal plan. Included in that plan, as you know, were improvements to ‘public spaces’, which meant the City planned to upgrade anything public in the district. Clearly, McEuen Field was intended in that plan. We even had conceptual drawings from City Planner Dave Yadon, which are amazingly similar to what subsequent designs of McEuen have entailed (sans the parking facility.)

    The result of this 25 year plan has been significant. People are drawn downtown and many choose to live there. And, not just in the high rise condos but all throughout the area. I remember my ex used her settlement to buy a house on 14th and Mullan, which she sold for a $108,000 gain four years later. Downtown changes brought new life to the whole district, and to areas nearby.

    The biggest sign to me that downtown is coming back came this weekend. With ‘Splash’ Hagadone has transformed the Plaze Shops to reach out to Sherman Avenue, and no longer to reject it. There is an energy in the coffee shops, boutiques, art galleries and yes, even the night life, that was not there when we began this process.

    The upgrade to McEuen Field is simply the next step in the process, one that has been delayed as the library and Kroc Center rightfully took center stage.

    I apologize for the Sunday morning history lesson, but sometimes the best way to see the future is to look at our past.

    Comment by JohnA — May 29, 2011 @ 8:45 am

  2. No need to beg for respect, John, because I don’t feel disrespected. On the other hand, the results of the LCDC’s efforts downtown are sincerely questionable. The vacancy rate today is at or above what it was in 1997. The main businesses downtown are bars that cater primarily to young rowdies from Washington State. I’ve heard from people who live downtown who say there is no sleep to be had, even after 2:00 AM when the bars supposedly close. It’s a nightmare. Is that the kind of environment retirees are desiring?

    Have you ever been to a retirement resort? Do you know what that class of people is looking for? If that’s who you truly wanted to attract, then it would have been useful, if not necessary, to put that information into the 1997 plan you wrote. I’ve read the plan many times, and such information or a study or references are completely missing. An oversight? Or just another case of the status quo crowd re-writing history to suit their ever-erratic “vision” for this place?

    Comment by Dan — May 29, 2011 @ 1:01 pm

  3. There are some valid points in what both JohnA and Dan are saying. Downtown CdA is currently in a Jekyll and Hyde mode. During the day it is very nice with appealing shops, art galleries,coffee shops and eating spots. But it transforms after 10 o clock and especially after midnight into something that is unappealing to most. Not to say that there are a a majority of bad people down there after 10. But there are enough bad apples that makes it an environment that makes people want to avoid it. If my wife and I take a late night weekend walk we avoid the north side of Sherman, that’s for sure.

    Comment by SteveW — May 29, 2011 @ 2:49 pm

  4. Dan, the vacancy rate in 1997 was nearly 40%. It is not that high now.

    As for the plan, the state law did not then nor does it now require project specificity, just a general description of the deterioration and the means the city will take to correct it. Wendy Hague and I wrote it to save the city $50,000, and the result was the best an attorney and an accountant could possibly provide, I’m afraid.

    As for the downtown the plan was to upgrade McEuen to attract locals to the waterfront, since there were few businesses to do that. I see that as still in the plans: build an attractive place for families and friends to meet, with attractions that appeal to more than the late night crowd. As far as the latter, I think the City needs to find a way to curb the behavior of a few to make it a better place for everyone else. I’m not in LE so I’m not sure what that is but something needs to happen sooner than later.

    Comment by JohnA — May 29, 2011 @ 4:14 pm

  5. I know that CDA PD has made it a priority to add more patrols to downtown to curb these few unruly folks. The effort is there. I walked the boardwalk today and saw alot of fresh graffiti which is disappointing. I dont think this stems from the bar crowd but rather a younger group of undesirables. The only awswer may be to add more foot patrols after dark.

    Comment by SteveW — May 29, 2011 @ 4:33 pm

  6. I would offer that the Sommers (see today’s Press) have done more to revitalize downtown using their own money, effort, and love than the LCDC has done with its millions of taxpayers dollars. To think that revitalizing downtown is the job of the government, is to believe more in the government than its citizens. I believe with all my soul that such a posture is wrong, and is ruining this city and this country.

    Imagine how much more could be done downtown if those businesses weren’t paying such high property taxes thanks to the LCDC!

    Comment by Dan — May 29, 2011 @ 4:50 pm

  7. Yes Dan, that was an excellent piece. The Sommers are awesome people that think of others and the effect they have on others. They are TRUE community members. They understand that ALL members of the community deserve respect and not just the chosen few. They restore, build first class, pay more than most, etc. They know the difference between quality and quantity. They would never consider over extending themselves to the detriment of others unlike a lot of the so called “investors” in this town.

    Comment by concerned citizen — May 29, 2011 @ 6:17 pm

  8. JohnA, the reason business moved/moves out of the downtown is the downtown building owners (businessmen?) double the rent when times are good and people move out when they cannot afford the rent when times are bad. Most of the building owners have also over extended themselves to the point that they cannot even maintain their, investment?

    Comment by concerned citizen — May 29, 2011 @ 6:37 pm

  9. I love when people say a FEW to try and take the focus on the real problem. Typical CdA tactic by those that do not live in the downtown core. It is a HECK of a lot more than a few and it starts long before midnight. BTW, college students run in gangs that tag as well. Heck, check with the sheriffs dept and see how old their oldest gang member in jail is. Again, typical of CdA, lame it on the kids. May I suggest playing classical music from the roof tops —– again since the youth are uncultured? This town has always gone for the easy buck and alcohol and slums are it.

    Comment by concerned citizen — May 29, 2011 @ 6:47 pm

  10. CC, Years ago, the downtown association installed very nice speakers from the roof of the Elder Bldg. (now renamed the Dingle Bldg.) to play classical music to drive away those pesky youngsters cruising Sherman. They forgot, however, that roof access was readily available via the fire escape at the rear of the building. Need I add that the speakers vanished?

    Comment by Susie Snedaker — May 29, 2011 @ 10:54 pm

  11. Sisie, that is why I threw the “—again” in there. These people think the young around here are culturally inept and do not realize that these same young ARE going to be running to world. Such a FINE example they are setting.

    Comment by concerned citizen — May 30, 2011 @ 7:36 am

  12. Susie, Sorry for misspelling your name. I just started on my first cup o coffeeeeeeeeee. lol

    Comment by concerned citizen — May 30, 2011 @ 7:37 am

  13. Dan, CDA’s urban renewal effort was originally based on the successful model in Portland, Oregon, the Portland Development Commission (PDC.) Their Downtown Waterfront URD, formed in 1974, had been a tremendous example upon which to base our plan. Although our plan was non-specific upon adoption in 1997, we knew we could implement it based on Portland’s model without tying our hands with initial specificity. So, after the URD’s creation the entire URA (not yet known as LCDC) traveled to Portland to see first hand their success. Wendy Hague, Dave Yadon and I accompanied them to view the model.

    Legislation passed in the previous few years had limited URD increment but that hadn’t stopped the vision that continues today. When you look at the before and after in the Waterfront URD you’ll see a devotion to improving public spaces, with many elements being captured in LCDC’s vision for our downtown waterfront. From a very interesting historical view of the PDC by Craig Wollner from Portland State, the entirety of which can be found on page 18:

    “Among many projects created in the district, urban renewal dollars supported new public open space in the construction of Pioneer Courthouse Square and development of the former Harbor Drive into the Governor Tom McCall Waterfront Park which allowed public access and family events along the west side of the Willamette River. Support also went to new development in the South Waterfront, called RiverPlace. The nationally acclaimed project
    included a mix of new housing, retail and office uses, a marina, hotel
    and fitness center and helped reclaim a former industrial area along
    the Willamette Riverfront. The Pioneer Place Project in the district is a significant example of PDC’s focus on a strong downtown core. The project was designed to respond to a need to revitalize the downtown in a systemic way. Businesses were hesitant to locate in the downtown because of an
    absence of services for customers and employees, and service businesses
    would not locate downtown because of a lack of customers. The PDC assembled and cleared land for the four block development and worked with the Rouse Company to build a retail and office complex. PDC maintained a high level of design control, and control over the identity and nature of business conducted by tenants of the project. The goal was to create a unique attractor that would draw members of the public downtown for shopping and recreation during the evenings and on weekends, to create a base of customers who would support service businesses downtown. The project is one of PDC’s more notable successes, both for economic activity on the premises
    and for the synergistic effects it achieved in the downtown business
    and retail market. Other major projects included three new parking garages supporting retail development and mass transit facilities, such as the expansion of the transit mall and improvements to Union Station. The district has helped generate a $618 million increase in assessed value since its formation.” The entire, facinating history of the PDC can be found at:

    The city of Portland was the first in Oregon (only the second in the nation, after Sacremento, CA) to grasp the benefits of urban renewal. The one area in which they’ve focused more attention than us is in public transit with their light rail and urban street car system. I’d like to see the city expand CityLink is a similar fashion but that can come later as the success of the District continues.

    In summary, CDA has been equally successful (some of you may say it’s been too successful) but the fact remains that with McEuen joining the library, Kroc Center and Ed Corridor, LCDC’s model will be the one that stands out in the region. I’m proud that I was part of it and I cannot wait to see what the final ten years will bring.

    Comment by JohnA — May 30, 2011 @ 1:08 pm

  14. Thanks for the history, John. I do agree with you: The LCDC model stands out, but I don’t agree with you on the reasons for why it stands out.

    Comment by Dan — May 30, 2011 @ 5:32 pm

  15. Urban renewal for a rural area? Hmm, I see the farms disappear to be replaced by tract housing. Then the nice tract homes are surrounded by low income tract homes. I see the heavy traffic, downtown drunkenness, and a government that stops listening to the will of the people. Great thing this urban renewal.

    How do we make the Resort look more awesome and popular and attract more millionaires? Frame the Resort on the right with the public beach, and on the left with a public waterfront park. Damn the dumb citizens who want to play baseball or launch their tiny boats.

    Urban renewal here = millionaire condos + water access only for resort slip owners + higher taxes and traffic for the masses.

    Comment by treadlightly — July 25, 2011 @ 8:32 am

  16. treadlightly,

    Urban renewal money, as it is dispensed in Coeur d’Alene and a few other places in Idaho, is like heroin or methamphetamine. The objective of those pushing it is to get people addicted and become obligated to the dealer. Many state legislators are addicted. Many local officials are addicted. And like most other addictions, one of its components is tolerance, the need to have more and more to achieve some minimum effect. As the money grows, it becomes easier and easier to buy politicians and judges, so the honest people have fewer places they can turn for remedy. Like any other addict whose dependency is growing, those addicted to urban renewal money will eventually stop looking for healthier, more lawful alternatives. Their life becomes more focused on simply getting the drug. No longer do they even care about attaining benevolent results for anyone but themselves and their cronies. The drug becomes the compelling objective. How often do we hear, “Urban renewal money is our only source of economic development?”

    Comment by Bill — July 25, 2011 @ 12:50 pm

  17. “Urban renewal money is our only source of economic development?”

    Popular catch-phrase of the small minded.

    Comment by Dan — July 25, 2011 @ 12:55 pm

  18. Bill,
    I am a simple layman. However, I do have common sense. I have often looked for a good definition of UR money. You nailed it right on the money and the apologists like JohnA are like an alcoholic or drug addict that is in denial to their addiction.

    Comment by concerned citizen — July 25, 2011 @ 5:40 pm

  19. concerned citizen,

    I’m in the same simple layman boat with you. There are other analogies that come to mind. A person who sprains an ankle may need to use a crutch for a short time to allow the sprain to heal. But if the person continues to use the crutch after the need for it has passed, the ankle may never heal properly and may, in fact, be weakened by atrophy. The municipality that abuses urban renewal through overuse and over-reliance may logically be stifling the ingenuity and imagination of the very people who could take the municipality far beyond what urban renewal handouts ever could.

    Comment by Bill — July 25, 2011 @ 7:11 pm

  20. Dan, we small minded people came up with a plan to deal with the dead downtown of the ’90s. We now have a new library no one could find a way to fund, a community center no one thought we could get with 5% of the cost, and jobs that exist only because of what we did.

    I’ll take the slight with pride. Thank you very much.

    Comment by JohnA — July 25, 2011 @ 7:21 pm

  21. Then you’re easily slighted. Do you walk around saying that Urban Renewal is the only economic development tool in Idaho? If so, then you are short sighted.

    Would downtown have fixed itself? I dunno. You offer no proof otherwise. And besides, the majority of the LCDC’s pot went into Riverstone, not downtown.

    Comment by Dan — July 25, 2011 @ 8:54 pm

  22. The new taxes from Riverstone is what will mostly fund McEuen and the Ed Corridor, Dan. That is a fact, pure and simple. LCDC’s investment there drove the $200 million increase in value and there’s where the money has and will come from.

    And, yes, call me shortsighted but I’ve been in this business for 25 years and the only true enticement to attracting business in Idaho is urban renewal. Nothing else worked before, and nothing else has since, so that’s the proof for me.

    Comment by JohnA — July 25, 2011 @ 10:07 pm

  23. John, Have you forgotten the Don Miles’ Main Street concept that was adopted by the city? The program detailed the design of the downtown streets, lightposts, etc., as well as listing a number of businesses needed for the downtown to attract locals. The downtown improvements were implemented. It appeared that the city was satisfied with the new look and never bothered to complete the adopted concept. If I remember correctly, Sandi Bloem lectured other cities on the Main Street concept.

    Riverstone should be a marvel of contemporary master planning and design. Unfortunately, Riverstone is nothing more than a jumble of buildings stuck here and there. There is no apparent architectural design standard, and the result is less than stellar. The lighting is good, however. It does bring lcdc tax monies, however.

    Comment by Susie Snedaker — July 26, 2011 @ 7:49 am

  24. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the current taxes on Riverstone haven’t even paid off the LCDC’s obligation to Riverstone. That’s about $9,000,000 Riverstone has to generate in property taxes that goes back to developer Stone before it goes to the LCDC. It’s going to take some time, given that the condos built there have about a 98% vacancy rate.

    No, John, the LCDC has to borrow money to pay for McEuen. That’s why they had a meeting months ago with various banks to see how much they can be on the line for.

    Correction: They met with the banks to see how much the taxpayers of Coeur d’Alene are on the line for, because if the LCDC defaults, the City has to come up with the funds to pay off the banks — and the City has to pay off that debt within a year.

    Nice setup.

    So, yes, if you call that the “only economic development tool” then I think it’s limiting the huge potential this state has to draw business. There many things elected officials can do, both in City Hall and in Boise, to draw business here. This state, and specifically this City, is business hostile. That can change, but only if we change the city council and the legislature.

    By the way, the number one economic tool any government organization has to draw in business is to keep taxes low. How does the LCDC help with that?

    Comment by Dan — July 26, 2011 @ 7:55 am

  25. Susie, I rememeber the Main Street design concept. The city utilized LIDs to beautify Sherman and Lakeside and that certainly helped to make downtown look good. The next step the city chose in the mid-90s was to create the URD, which as we’ve seen worked.

    Dan, the city is borrowing the money so they can make the improvements now, rather than wait 11 years until they have the funds. That makes sense with rates at 3.8%, which will no doubt prove to be lower than the unknown construction costs in years to come. And, we’ll all get to use the improvements now, rather than wait 11 years.

    Meanwhile, it is still Riverstone that is the economic engine for funding, as much of the value increase in the Lake District has come in or near there.

    What is great is that LCDC knows it will have enough increment over the next 11 years to do the improvements, plus pay off its existing loans, so there is no risk of default. If there were, no invester would touch the financing. It’s a good model, Dan, even if you don’t like elements of it.

    Comment by JohnA — July 26, 2011 @ 8:53 am

  26. The Main Street plan was more than simple aesthetics. It was a plan for the revitalization of downtown. As I stated earlier, the city failed to follow the plan they adopted.

    Unfortunately, the administration seems only to embrace style over substance. I would offer the expensive iron fencing of the cemetaries that exist only on main streets while the remainder is utilitarian chain link fencing. The downtown has had only a miniscule effort spent on maintenance. Light standards and other metal poles are badly in need of painting and in some cases repair. The bricks are pedestrian hazards due to lack of maintenance. I could go on and on.

    It seems to me that developers who lack adequate capitalization have their hands out for public funds.

    Comment by Susie Snedaker — July 26, 2011 @ 11:35 am

  27. Well, I agree that it’s a good model, I’d just like to see it used to bring in jobs.

    Comment by Dan — July 26, 2011 @ 1:35 pm

  28. Dan, it brought in jobs. $3.35 an hour jobs while they sit on millions. REAL sense of community there.

    Comment by concerned citizen — July 26, 2011 @ 8:10 pm

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