By Natalia DiGiosia
THE GATEWAY PROJECT: The push + impact to make downtown Eagle thrive
Construction projects can bring both excitement and challenges to any community. In Eagle, the development on the corner of Eagle Road and Old State Street, known as The Gateway Project, is no exception. Megan Hoiosen, the owner of Sweet Tea Living and the ice cream shop, Scoops, shares her perspective on how the ongoing construction has affected her business and the efforts she and fellow shop owners have made to adapt.
“Construction has definitely impacted us. We are down 25% from our normal years. When the restaurants closed and fences went up, we saw a decrease in our shoppers.” Megan’s sentiments are echoed by many small business owners in the area who have experienced a notable downturn in foot traffic and sales since the construction began.
What exactly is being built in this area? Josh Evarts, Development Manager for the project, shares that The Gateway Project will include ground level restaurants, office spaces, 3 retail outlets, 17 condominiums for sale, and a wine bar concept, all within a single three-story building. The Gateway Project is led by The Pacific Companies, a locally based development firm with extensive experience, in partnership with the Eagle Urban Renewal Agency. The development promises a transformative impact on Downtown Eagle.
Scheduled for completion in December 2024, the project’s vision aligns with the City of Eagle Comprehensive Plan and embraces guidelines from the Eagle’s Old Towne Planning Area. The project aims to create an open, inviting environment that promotes shopping, dining, and interaction among residents and visitors.
Tammie Halcomb, Economic Development Specialist at the City of Eagle, describes the City’s vision. “As we look to the future, we are confident that downtown’s development will be a symbol of our collective vision—a beacon of growth that shines brightly, attracting not only businesses and investors but also the hearts of those who call this city their home.” The Gateway Project will one day support this vision, but until the completion date, business owners and Eagle residents will face challenges to their typical routines. For example, many people are disappointed to find their local ice cream shop, Scoops, closed this summer. But Megan and her husband decided not to open for safety reasons, since the shop is so close to construction. With that uncertainty she shares “We’re not quite sure what will happen to that business.”
With these heavy challenges, Megan remains optimistic and recognizes the inevitability of growth and change. “We’re obviously not against change. Growth is going to happen,” she says. To tackle the challenges head-on, a group of business owners, including Megan, came together and put their creative minds to work. They designed a walking map to direct customers through the construction and showcase the businesses in the area. The map, available on shop counters, has become a great tool to bring shop owners together and promote their resilience during this phase.
Megan’s proactive approach also extends to fostering good relationships with the construction team and other stakeholders. “I decided to become friends with the builders next to us, because they will be our neighbors for two years. They have been great about letting me know what’s happening.” This relationship has proven invaluable as they keep her informed about construction updates and potential impacts on her business. Megan has also become more involved with the City Council, speaking and advocating on behalf of the shops. “Small businesses are self-starters. Before owning this shop, I was a school teacher. Many of us are just figuring it out as we go!”
One major concern that Megan and other business owners share is the issue of parking. As the area undergoes significant growth, the demand for parking spaces increases. Megan wonders how the City will manage this aspect to ensure that businesses can thrive despite potential parking challenges.
The most important thing people should remember is to continue coming to Downtown Eagle. Bike, drive, and walk in to visit shops even when the roads are closed.
While challenges exist during this period of growth and construction, the determination and resilience of business owners like Megan Hoiosen, along with the city’s efforts to communicate and support local businesses, will undoubtedly contribute to a flourishing future for Downtown Eagle. As The Gateway Project reaches its completion in December 2024, the community can look forward to a vibrant and thriving downtown area, enriched by its unique charm and the spirit of collaboration that defines Eagle.