Every year, Meridian changes and welcomes new homes and businesses to the mix. And although commercial and residential building permits are nowhere near their 2005 peaks, new permit activity is on the rise.

Most of the new homes and businesses coming to town are slated for north Meridian, from McDermott Road on the west to Eagle Road on the east.

HOUSING

Developers have their eyes on the wide open spaces between McDermott and Ten Mile roads and Ustick and Chinden Boulevard.

“The hottest growth is happening in northern Meridian,” Meridian Planning Supervisor Justin Lucas said, referring to three proposed subdivisions: The Oaks, Bainbridge and Voltera.

“With these subdivisions, some of them are proposing public parks,” he said.

That’s not all they’re proposing. A big focus in new subdivisions is community living and walkability, Economic Development Administrator Brenda Sherwood said. One developer hopes to include a daycare, storage units and new fire station in the neighborhood.

Along with these proposed projects, existing subdivisions throughout the city continue to grow, Lucas said, and there’s been a spike in new multi-family units.

Through June of this year, new residential permit values reached $128 million — already $8 million more than all of 2010 and on pace to surpass last year’s values.

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City targets public safety industry

New commercial projects like The Village at Meridian and the new Scentsy Commons on Eagle Road have grabbed a lot of attention. But what’s not be as obvious is Meridian’s push for a new public safety cluster, including new training facilities and partnerships with local gun and equipment manufacturers.

One of the cluster’s first developments is Forward Movement Training, a privately-owned facility set to open this fall that will offer anything from self-defense classes to a simulated bank-robbery training for bank employees, police officers, SWAT teams and detectives.

Deputy Sheriff Matt Schneider of Meridian got the idea for FMT while training in an empty building.

“It really lacked any realistic value to it, so I started thinking about possibilities,” he said.

The city also has plans to open its own training center with a “scenario village” for emergency responders. Both training facilities — which will specialize in different areas to avoid overlap — hope to use equipment made by local companies, including AIRE Inc., ATK Sporting Group and WMDTech.

“It’s going to be a benefit to get this technology that’s already here in Idaho in front of all of our emergency responders,” Sherwood said.

Scentsy, Walmart expand

Other commercial projects in Meridian include the seven-building Scentsy Commons on Eagle Road and new Walmart on the corner of McMillan and Ten Mile roads.

“I think you can highlight developments like the Scentsy complex to show that Meridian isn’t just a bedroom community,” Lucas said.

Small manufacturers eye downtown

Many inventors or tech manufacturers get started at a business incubator, such as Boise State University’s TECenter in Nampa. Sherwood hopes to attract these growing businesses to downtown Meridian.

“Some of those companies that are coming out of these incubator spaces, they’re going to need affordable office space, and we do still have that in downtown Meridian,” she said.

The companies’ employees would likely frequent the existing stores and restaurants downtown, she said.

The hope is to see more residential development downtown so people can live, work and shop in a walkable area, she said.

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