Downtown revitalization project set for Caldwell

Posted at 7:01 PM, Feb 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-24 21:11:43-05

The heart of downtown Caldwell is coming to life with plans for several new developments in the next two years including a European style plaza.

A downtown revitalization expert was brought in to assess Caldwell's historic district a few years ago, according to longtime realtor and board chairman of the Caldwell Chamber of Commerce, Scott Syme. He says thanks to private donors, a formal study was eventually conducted outlining ways to rebrand the district and attract businesses and customers, alike.

Could downtown Caldwell be the next hip destination in the Treasure Valley?

There is an effort underway to put the historic district on the map.

The owner of the Indian Creek Steakhouse, Dillon Wickel, has expanded twice since opening in 2011 despite being told by some that his business would flop within a year of opening.

With a goal of booking the soon-to-be, nearby European style plaza 250 nights out of the year, Wickel is gearing up for even more customers.

"I think it will probably double our business," he says. "We have plenty of options for people when they come down here... or over at the Bird's Stop or Chinese food."

About a year ago, the revitalization effort began with the installation of new sidewalks and benches.

Besides plans for the ground to be broken on the plaza in 2017, the old Trolley Square will be replaced with a movie theater.

The old Sundowner Inn was also purchased recently by city of Caldwell leaders. After it is demolished, there has been talk the area will serve as an extension of Indian Creek.

"It [the creek] has made it one of those unique downtowns that you're not going to find anywhere in the valley," Syme says.

Syme thinks the plaza will be a big draw for Idahoans and Oregonians alike.

"When you walk in you'll see the [historic] buildings surrounding the plaza," he says.

All of the new developments are expected to be complete within the next couple of years.

Downtown business owners are excited for the new additions.

At the Indian Creek Steakhouse, they will carry on with their free swing dance lessons each Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. Plus, they have live bands every Friday and Saturday night.

"Foot traffic will go up and put more people in front of our businesses," Wickel says. "Hopefully, we'll be like Meridian and Boise one day, if not better."

Mayor Garret Nancolas is expected to outline the Caldwell downtown redevelopment project Thursday afternoon as part of his state of the city address. The public is invited to attend. It will he held inside the Jewett Auditorium and starts at 4 p.m.