This area of Meridian is on the verge of becoming the fastest-growing place in Idaho | Idaho Statesman

When it opens early next month, a Tru by Hilton hotel will be the fourth hotel at the Interstate 84 interchange with Eagle Road. The four-story hotel is going up near the eastbound offramp.

A couple of months later, Norco is scheduled to open a store across Eagle and off Overland. “It will make it easy for our customers to get to that location, and we’ll be able to tell them we’re across the interstate from St. Luke’s,” said Nicole Kissler, Norco’s director of medical reimbursement.

Those are just two of dozens of building projects underway along a four-mile stretch of Overland from Eagle Road west to Ten Mile Road and south two miles to Amity Road. As the economy — and Meridian — keep growing, these eight square miles have become a hotspot of farmland destruction and building construction.

“In general, north Meridian has always been the fastest-growing area of the community, and south Meridian has probably been No. 2 — and that’s in the whole state,” said David Turnbull, CEO of the Brighton Corp., a Meridian-based home and commercial developer. “South Meridian will probably jump up and overtake north Meridian.”

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Since 2013, 1.2 million square feet of commercial space has been built there. So have 2,100 new residential units, including single-family homes, condominiums, townhouses and apartments, said Carl Miller, principal planner for the Community Planning Association of Southwest Idaho, or COMPASS.

North Meridian, another eight-square-mile area bounded by Chinden Boulevard on the north, West Ustick Road on the south, North Black Cat Road on the west and North Locust Grove Road on the east, has added 2.2 million square feet of commercial space and 2,739 new residential units, Miller said.

That growth has been fueled by a population explosion that has seen Meridian nearly triple in size since 2000. Last year, COMPASS estimated the city’s population at 98,300. The U.S. Census Bureau said Meridian had 34,919 residents in 2000 and 75,092 in 2010.

This Tru by Hilton hotel, described by the company as “vibrant, affordable and for the young-at-heart,” is scheduled to open near Eagle and Overland roads in early April. It will be the fourth hotel at the Eagle Road interchange off Interstatee 84.

Katherine Jones

Disappearing farmland

Construction like the Tru by Hilton is filling in some still-undeveloped sites on the nearly full Eagle Road side of south Meridian, while construction closer to Ten Mile is encroaching on still-rural landscapes, especially west of Linder Road.

“We’re starting to see small residential projects pop up along Overland between Ten Mile and Linder, a fire station that’s planned in that vicinity, some retailers that are relatively new in that area,” said Caleb Hood, Meridian’s planning division manager.

Along the Overland corridor between Eagle Road and Ten Mile, recently opened businesses include Domino’s Pizza, Sonic Drive-In, Harry’s Hideaway Bar and Grill and Bish’s RV, which moved from Nampa to a 17-acre site at 1300 W. Overland Road.

WinCo Foods planned to build a new grocery store on Overland west of Eagle, but in January the company withdrew its application to subdivide the 18.75-acre property. The Boise company has not said whether it still plans to build the store and other buildings there.

Two housing developments are underway on Overland near Ten Mile. The Southridge Apartments and the Linder and Overland Apartments would add 922 housing units to Meridian’s inventory.

YMCA-Luke’s-school complex

While most of the new construction in south Meridian is concentrated along the Overland corridor, there is also growth along Victory Road, one mile south of Overland, and Amity Road, two miles south.

The South Meridian Family YMCA is scheduled to open Friday, May 25, near Amity and Eagle roads. The building is located next to Hillsdale Elementary School, which opened last fall.

The YMCA is partnering with the school and St. Luke’s Health System to offer a school-nurse program and a wellness center to help people eat, exercise and live more healthfully. St. Luke’s will also operate a clinic at the site.

The opening of the YMCA, along with the school, is expected to draw additional growth nearby.

“As if they need a spurt in that area,” said Robin Hayes, spokeswoman for the Treasure Valley Family YMCA.

New homes have been built and others are under construction in the Hill’s Century Farm subdivision south of the YMCA and Hillside School. Five other new subdivisions are nearby.

“What spurs a lot of that is fairly good access to the interstate and other arterial roads,” Hood said. “The city is working to develop more robust pathway networks so people can walk and bike and rollerblade and skateboard to get to places and not have to hop into their cars.”

Construction crews work to finish the 92-room hotel.

Katherine Jones

Albertsons, sewer lines, more schools

Albertsons has a new grocery store planned at the northwest corner of Eagle and Amity. The Ada County Highway District plans to expand a roundabout at that intersection from one to two lanes.

The city of Meridian is spending $8 million to extend sewer lines south on Meridian Road between Victory and Amity. That will clear the way for new development there, Hood said. The extension is expected to be completed before the end of the year.

The West Ada School District has plans for three new south Meridian schools. Blue Valley Elementary is envisioned for property at Overland and Linder, Grove High School at Linder and Amity and Hill High and middle school at Eagle and Amity, according to the district’s long-range plan. The schools are currently in the planning stages and no schedule has been set for construction.

A $95 million bonding request on Tuesday’s West Ada ballot includes money to expand two schools in south Meridian. The district wants to spend $8 million to expand Mountain View High School, located off Overland west of Eagle Road. It wants $1 million to add four classrooms at Mary McPherson Elementary School on Amity west of South Locust Grove.

The TownePlace Suites by Marriott is visible through the windows of the Tru by Hilton hotel, just steps to the west.

Katherine Jones

Just outside the box

Still more projects have been rising just outside the Eagle-Overland-Ten Mile-Amity rectangle, including:

▪ Ten Mile Crossing: Brighton has partnered with Gardner Co. to build this business park on 71 acres northeast of the I-84 interchange at Ten Mile Road.

AmeriBen, a Meridian human resources and benefits administration company, has moved into a new, 76,000-square-foot, two-story building. The five-story Columbus Building, with 127,000 square feet southwest of AmeriBen, is scheduled to be completed in June. Paylocity, a Chicago payroll and human resources company, will share that building with other businesses.

A groundbreaking will be held in March for the four-story, 84,000-square-foot Magellan Building, west of the Columbus Building. Brighton, which had initially planned to move its headquarters to the Columbus Building, will instead go to that one. It is expected to be completed in next February.

▪ Other businesses spawned by the Ten Mile interchange: A Primary Health clinic and a car wash are under construction farther north on Ten Mile.

The Ten Mile interchange opened in 2011, before the recession’s grip eased. Only now are commercial buildings emerging.

▪ The Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine: Idaho’s first medical school is under construction immediately north of I-84 off Locust Grove Road next to Idaho State University’s Meridian Health Science Center. The college is scheduled to begin classes this fall with a class of 150.

“A lot of where you see growth occurring is based on where services can be provided,” Hood said. “There are pockets of south Meridian that have sewer and water that are readily available or can be made readily available. Southeast Meridian and northwest Meridian are in a similar situation, where recent capital improvements to sewer and water infrastructure have spurred growth.”

John Sowell: 208-377-6423, @JohnWSowell

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