The play element of the evolving Mitchell Industrial Park is about to take flight. As the new businesses ringing the former Boise Cascade Mill site gear up for full work production, the center core of the 64-acre complex is finding its own identity.
The first taste of the facilities potential will be launched on the Fourth of July as the complex will open up to the public for viewing of the annual fireworks display over the Gem Island Sports Complex. The entrance on Cascade Road will open at 7:30 p.m. for tailgaters and fireworks viewers for designated parking areas.
As the summer progresses local community events will be coming to the facilities as public demand and event organizers dictate.
It’s that versatility and ability to adapt to event needs that John Wood envisions as he walks through the property – even more today than when he bought the complex last summer.
“There are a host of ideas being presented to us on how we can use this unique space,” Wood said. “Each of the areas is unique and yet they are complimentary to each other. We didn’t come in with a master plan to redevelop every inch. We want this to create itself in response to needs and desires of the community.”
Four primary areas will be developed as both stand alone features and as integrated components for larger events.
At the primary entrance to the complex off Cascade Road, a monument to the historic nature of the former mill complex has been in place with the 1916 Sawmill Flywheel. The flywheel was part of the Corliss Engine that through steam power generated electricity that operated much of the mill. This area will be expanded and more of the history of the timber industry is to be added.
This former lumber storage area, referenced as Building No. 3, may be the largest single-roof, single space facility in Idaho. At over 95,000 square feet of concrete floor under roof, the Timber Pavilion is more than three times the largest room at the Boise Center on the Grove. The entire Expo Idaho building at the Western Idaho Fairgrounds in Boise covers 75,000 square feet. The building is 735 feet long and 130 feet wide, timber pillared and metal roofed.
It’s not just the size of the building, however, that lends itself to the imagination for future potential use. The heavy wood laminate beams that raise a roof over 40 feet above the floor provide a rustic architectural aura that is rare.
One prospective event organizer called the facility “an unexpected gem from a time that no longer exists. It has some of the same vibes as old stave churches in Europe, and yet it echoes with the history of the blood, sweat and tears of the people who invested their lives in this community.”
Prospective events for the facility include: a “Monster Mash” Halloween party and movie showing; outdoor (yet under the roof) theater productions; an international Christmas festival celebrating the foods, music and Christmas traditions of a multitude nationalities and cultures; a huge square dance extravaganza; perhaps the world’s longest line dance.
Morphing existing concrete and paved areas in the middle of the complex into a versatile race course is already underway. A single stretch is being utilized as a street-drag strip for recreational competitors. It will be utilized on July 20 for an “afterburn” event following the Emmett Show N Shine and Cruise Night in downtown Emmett. Beginning at 9 p.m. cruisers can wheel out of the cruise line and then peel out in a more competitive nature at the motorplex strip.
The strip will also be used for a Diesel Drags event on July 27.
The strip is expected to eventually be incorporated into a more complex road course circuit that could exceed 1.5 miles in length. Preliminary designs for this course call for up to a 40 foot track width that could be utilized by go-carts up to NASCAR sanctioned vehicles in road course races. The course may incorporate a path through one of the buildings and the Timber Pavilion as “pit row” and vendor/spectator area.
A mini-version of the motorplex concept is already operational on Wood’s property off Chaparral Road near the Gem and Ada County borders off Highway 16. Kart Idaho is a paved serpentine course designed for an advanced go-carting experience.
Phil Reed races an Italian built electric cart at Kart Idaho, reaching speeds of 80 miles per hour.
“We have places we can race short stretches but you will be there all day to get in a few minutes of racing.” Reed, a member of the Sports Car Club of American (SCCA), said. “A larger course, like one in Utah, can get you 20 and 30 minute runs and maybe two hours of racing in a day.”
Wood sees the Motorplex becoming a versatile venue to fill in the gaps and compliment other local racing venues like Firebird Raceway and Black Canyon Raceway.
The special use permit issued for the complex specifies the transformation of a parcel on the west end of the property into a full-service RV park. The park will be fully connected to Emmett City sewer and water and is expected to have up to 60 spaces available for all sizes of motor homes, trailers, and tiny homes meeting city code. Amenities for visitors are planned including space for horses to be temporarily pastured while participating in events within the community.
The RV park can provide housing space for event participants who travel for races, exhibits, or are just visiting the area. Plans are to tie the RV park to the walking path along the Payette River and eventually have a loop that visitors can use to walk into the downtown core.
While each element of the entertainment spaces can stand alone, particularly for community events, its the combination of spaces that holds promise as a destination event host site. Concerts, races, shows, exhibits, and regional gathering events all have potential to draw large numbers of visitors not only from the rest of the Treasure Valley but the entire Northwest.
Not only is the exhibit space available at the Timber Pavilion significant, another 30,000 square feet of covered space is potentially available under a metal structure that will be located in the midst of the race course.
Lynn Hodges of Nampa races monthly with his family at the Utah Motorsports Complex near Salt Lake City. He races a 2006 Lotus.
“There are a number of us that go there and others that go to Spokane on a regular basis to race our NASA (National Auto Sport Association) cars.” Hodges said. “There is tremendous interest in having something in between where the region could meet and compete two or three times a year.”
The first concert at the complex is scheduled for August 31 when MIP Productions will be hosting the first Mill Yard Bash – a full day event that combines a Diesel Show N Shine with a four-band lineup.
MIP Productions is currently serving as the contact point for individuals or groups interested in possibly using some or all of the event spaces for a future event. Inquiries can be left at 208-398-0054.