It's been two years since Ten Mile Crossing's first building opened, and construction hasn't slowed since.
The wide open 75 acres off Ten Mile Road and Interstate 84 have been prime for development for over a decade — ever since the Ten Mile interchange opened — but the Great Recession kept projects at bay.
Meridian created a 301 acre urban renewal district in the area in 2016, offering to reimburse developers for building roads, sewer lines and other infrastructure. That kicked off a wave of development.
AmeriBen was first to move in, followed by Paylocity, Horrocks Engineers, and, more recently, Brighton Corporation, which is developing the site with Ball Ventures Ahlquist. Ten Mile Crossing now has five buildings, 17 announced tenants and more buildings on the way.
“This is a major project,” Brighton CEO David Turnbull said at the company's May 30 ribbon cutting. “You’re going to see a mix of a lot of businesses. We’ve got multiple buildings here that we’re planning on starting in the coming months.”
The creation of the urban renewal district did help speed up Brighton's plans to develop, Turnbull told the Meridian Press in 2016.
The Meridian Development Corporation and Brighton began processing it's first urban renewal reimbursement May, totaling $66,944. That's how much tax revenue the urban renewal agency received from the urban renewal district in 2018, Meridian Development Corporation administrator Ashley Squyres said.
So far in 2019, the district has received another $272,041, which could go Brighton or other properties in the district that have generated tax increment funding, she said. A small portion of that money, 10%, will also go to administration fees to manage the district, she said.
The urban renewal collects property taxes on any increase in a district's market value from the year the district is created until the year it sunsets, a maximum of 20 years.
This year the total market value of the district was $84.3 million, according to the Ada County Assessor's Office. The city's urban renewal agency will be able to collect property taxes on $69.2 million of that.
Squyres said the jump in funding is an indicator of how the ongoing construction in the district has significantly raised property values “compared to the bare ground that was there previously.”
Brighton and BVA have big plans moving forward, including another five-story office building, two medical office buildings and the expansion of the AmeriBen building. Earlier this month, Olympic gold medalist Kristin Armstrong opened her new gym in Ten Mile Crossing. Zennify, a tech firm, also relocated to the business park when it outgrew its downtown Meridian location.
“This is going to be a true mixed-use development,” Turnbull said during the ribbon cutting. “We’re treating this with a lot of forethought and care in the hopes that it will become what Meridian hopes it to be.”
City Planning Division Manager Caleb Hood said there is a “synergy happening” at the site that could lead to more development in the area.
“It’s ripe, it’s ready to go,” Hood said. “Services are there; nothing is holding it back.”
Those services could be expanding soon. There are conversations happening between the city and Valley Regional Transit to create a bus route from Ten Mile Crossing to The Village at Meridian with stops throughout the city. Meridian City Council will vote to approve or deny funding for the project later this summer during budget hearings.
The Ten Mile Interchange Plan
Just down the street from Ten Mile Crossing is another development by Brighton and BVA, Ten Mile Creek. The 120-acre complex off Ten Mile and Franklin roads is anchored by The Lofts at Ten Mile Apartments. Half of the 240 apartment units are scheduled to open this summer, according to Daniel Turnbull, principal at Brighton Ventures, an arm of Brighton Corporation, with the other half opening this winter. Epic Shine Car Wash, a Primary Health facility and the restaurant Happy Teriyaki are already open on the corner next to the apartments.
Ten Mile Crossing and Ten Mile Creek make up only a part of what the city envisions for the Ten Mile interchange area.
As the state was getting ready to build an I-84 interchange at Ten Mile Road, the city was working on a vision for the area. After a "robust public stakeholder" process of meeting with property owners and developers, Hood said, the city in 2007 adopted a plan for high-density employment and housing on 4 square miles off the interchange. The vision estimated development could bring in 20,000 jobs, commercial retail, and up to 10,000 homes.
The Idaho Transportation Department opened the Ten Mile interchange in 2011 after a nearly two-year, $33.8 million construction project.
Plans for Ten Mile development were hit hard by the recession, Hood said. The land sat largely undeveloped and vacant until Meridian’s urban renewal agency established the Ten Mile urban renewal district in 2016, Hood said, which got it “over the hump.”
The 2007 plan envisioned an area with housing close to jobs, Hood said. It created a place where people could recreate, shop, eat, work and live all in close proximity, he said.
“Go back 12, years we didn’t have anything like that in the city,” Hood said.
Historically, land use zoning such as residential, commercial and industrial have been departing different types of uses and densities, Hood said. However, as Meridian grows, it's starting to see more residential projects built alongside offices.
The city's vision for Ten Mile includes a range of housing types and pricing levels, and a network of pathways to boost walkability.
Now, 12 years after the plan was approved, the land is still mostly undeveloped with the exception of Brighton and BVA’s developments, and a handful of other projects. Of the 4 square miles in the plan, “ we haven’t even built out one,” Hood said.
Hood said the class A office space that BVA and Brighton have built creates “professional office settings where family-wage jobs can be had in town.” The development also helps the city to create integrated communities where people can live close to their jobs, he said.
Brighton and BVA have made a couple of changes to the 2007 plan — including changing a large portion of land designated as lifestyle center to commercial — but Hood said they haven’t compromised the overall vision.
“(The plan) was never meant to be a blueprint,” he said. “Although it is not developing 100 percent with 2007 version, it is turning out very nice.”
Tommy Ahlquist, CEO of Ball Ventures Ahlquist, said the Ten Mile interchange will still have the mix of jobs, housing and recreation the city planned for even with the change. He said first developers have to build jobs and places for people to live.
“We’ve developed ‘work,’ we’re developing ‘live.’… I think the ‘play’ part will come,” he said.
While there is still a lot of space left for development in the Ten Mile Crossing interchange area, city staff are having conversations about doing something similar in other areas of Meridian.
As part of their process of updating the comprehensive plan, city staff are talking about creating sub-area plans in the southeast and northwest sections of Meridian, Hood said.
The specifics of those plans are still in the works, but Hood said they would involve more detailed planning where developers would have specific design criteria they needed to meet, such as how tall the buildings are or what materials are used. Hood said city staff don't have the resources to create those plans on their own. In order to get help from a consultant and start the planning process, Hood said staff would need to get approval from Meridian City Council to set aside funding for the consultant.
Ahlquist said area specific plans can “lead to really well planned and organized cities,” especially if cities solicit input from land owners and developers. Ahlquist said those plans are “dependent on a lot of changes over time” and city officials need to be careful about planning for things that the economy will still need as things change.
Squyres said the urban renewal district has had "conversations with other developers in the past who have expressed interest in the district." Squyres said she anticipates growth continuing.
"Today, the Ten Mile Urban Renewal District is home to Paylocity, AmeriBen, BVA, Brighton Corporation, Zennify, and others," she said over email. "None of these companies (were) near Ten Mile before the district was created. A few years ago, it was just an empty field."
Correction: This article has been changed to state the $272,041 the Meridian Development Corporation has received in 2019 could go Brighton Corporation or other properties in the district that have generated tax increment funding. A small portion of that money, 10%, will also go to administration fees to manage the district.