CALDWELL, Idaho (AP) — A tourism and business group is looking to rebrand Caldwell as a food and wine mecca centered around a new downtown plaza.

The nonprofit Destination Caldwell spent a year raising the $65,000 that it took to hire a branding expert to come up with a plan for its lackluster downtown, the Idaho Press Tribune reported Saturday.

The expert, Roger Brooks, revealed his vision for the city west of Boise in a packed room at the College of Idaho on Friday.

“You’ve had a lot of false starts in Caldwell,” he said. “There will not be a false start this time.”

His plan involves marketing the Sunny Slope wine trail while encouraging new restaurants to open, and then to market those amenities using slogans like “Old McDonald never had it so good,” and “You can bet the farm on Caldwell.”

The first step is to raise money for a new plaza that would feature a concert stage, splash pad, outdoor dining and space for vendors. The Caldwell City Council would have to approve the plaza and figure out how to pay for construction.

“A plaza is the soul of a downtown,” Brooks said. “This could be the coolest thing you’ve ever done.”

For the plan to work, there would need to be events planned for the plaza at least 250 days of the year. If not, restaurants and retail shops won’t open around it, he said.

He pointed to Rapid City, South Dakota, as an example of the potential. Two years after the city built a downtown plaza, the age of the average homebuyer dropped by 12 years, turnover at downtown shops declined and the city now rakes in $130,000 annually just from ice skate rentals, he said.

Paying for the vision remains a hurdle.

“It’s the big question on everyone’s mind,” said Caldwell City Council member Terrence Biggers said.

Nampa real estate agent Jeff Bull was optimistic. “Just look at the turnout here alone,” he said.


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