Boise Bike Race 4
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Healthy Community

Healthy Communities has been a major initiative of the Idaho District Council over the past two years. Most recently the District Council was awarded a Healthy Corridors Grant to study Vista Avenue in partnership with the City's Energize our Neighborhood program for the Vista Neighborhood. Earlier work involved the formation of Healthy Communities Initiative Council with the release of their report, " The Next 1000", exploring how to increase the number of downtown housing units. This work was made possible through a ULI Urban Innovation Grant.

Healthy Community

Healthy Demonstration Corridors

Nearly every community across the United States is plagued by auto-dominated arterials and commercial corridors that add pollution, ugliness, and danger to the metropolitan landscape. With a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, ULI will be investigating best practices to reinvent under-performing suburban and urban arterials in health-promoting ways. This work will help advance efforts to foster places that promote health for the people who live, work, and travel on these streets.

Press Release: ULI Receives $250,000 Grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

As a key component of the grant, ULI will work directly with four U.S. communities to identify problematic arterials and commercial strips and strategies for reinventing them as healthy places with strong connections to surrounding communities, many of whom are immigrant and low-income. These communities, referred to as Demonstration Corridors, will receive support and advice to advance efforts to reinvent commercial corridors in healthier ways. ULI’s District Councils will play an integral role in developing new approaches to healthy corridor redevelopment, and will help develop strategies that can be replicated nationwide.

The four Demonstration Corridors, selected through a competitive application process with ULI’s District Councils, are: Los Angeles, California; Denver, Colorado; Nashville, Tennessee; and Boise, Idaho.

Photo1ULI Idaho and partnering with the City of Boise Energize our Vista Neighborhood project will be working on a 1.7 mile segment of a 4 mile, 4 lane arterial connecting the airport, Interstate 84, Boise State University, and downtown Boise. Vista Avenue exemplifies a typical strip commercial street, with auto-oriented retail, bars, pawn shops, a mix of converted and dilapidated housing, and very few pedestrian facilities. This segment of the corridor bifurcates the Vista Neighborhood, which has some of the lowest livability indicators (income, single family home value, etc.) in the city, and includes a mix of single and multi-family housing. Due to the function of this corridor as a gateway to the city and the lack of relationship to the surrounding neighborhoods, there is a lot of opportunity to improve the uses and infrastructure along Vista Avenue to make it more attractive to visitors, while simultaneously improving the health and well-being of residents who rely on the corridor as part of their daily lives.

Through this two-year project, led by the Building Healthy Places Initiative and the Rose Center for Public Leadership, ULI will:

  • Develop and refine a replicable typology for a holistically healthy corridor.
  • Identify approaches that work for spurring real change along the corridors.
  • Leverage new understanding among the ULI networks, nurturing and informing a community of practice around effective approaches to creating healthy corridors.
  • Disseminate lessons learned from demonstration corridors throughout the ULI networks.

Healthy Communities Initiative Council 

In the Fall of 2011, the ULI Idaho District Council was granted an Urban Innovation Grant from the ULI Foundation to pursue the opportunities for a partnership with other organizations. The objective of the effort was to mobilize action in support of developing a healthy community. To build capacity within the district council organization for a partnership with other organizations, a Healthy Community Initiative Council was formed. “ULI Idaho The Next 1000 is a summary of the work completed by the Council over a six month period to examine the opportunities and challenges of creating 1000 new housing units in Boise within five years, and recommends collaborative actions with partners needed for success. All members of the Healthy Community Initiative Council were involved in some phase of this study. They were assisted through interviews, advice and technical information provided by individuals from the broader community and other ULI District Councils. Initiative Council Members: Amanda Ashley, Boise State University; Adam Little, Eberle Berlin; Gary Allen, Givens Pursley; Jeremy Malone, Oppenheimer Companies; Matt Brookshier, The Brookshier Group; Derick O’Neill, City of Boise; Clay Carley, Old Boise; Scott Schoenherr, Rafanelli & Nahas; Stan Cole, Cole Architects; Bryant Forester, Urban Concepts; Bob Taunton, Taunton Group; Mike Hormaechea, RMH Company; Bruce Wetten, Title One; George Iliff, Colliers International; Ed Miller, Givens Pursley; and Diane, Kushlan, ULI Idaho. 061714 061714(2) On June 17, 2014, over 90 ULI and Community leaders hear the findings and recommendation of the Initiative Council  in a Presentation followed by a panel of local community leaders moderated by Jeremy Malone, Oppenheimer Development Corporation Vice-president. Maryann Jordan, Boise City Council Member, said the recommendations are very much in parallel with the City’s objectives and investment strategies over the next few years which are currently under review through the city’s budget process. John Franden, Ada County Highway District Commissioner indicated that the district will be reviewing their impact fee structure beginning this fall. He cautioned that resources are limited and if fees are reduced in one area they will need to be increased somewhere else in a fair and proportionate manner. John Brunelle, Capital City Development Corporation Executive Director praised the work and said his agency is ready to partner with other to see what incentives can be provided ofr housing. He reviewed the district’s current policy of incentivizing projects and they are ready to aprtner Kâren Sander, Downtown Boise Association (DBA) Executive Director said the DBA has long recognized the value of housing for economic vitality. They have sponsored Mothers’ Day downtown house tours and developed a website on downtown living: Brad Barker, Group One, Inc. President indicated the high level of interest in downtown condominiums. Price point is an issue. Wes Jost, Zions Bank Senior Vice President Idaho Regional Director of Real Estate, reported that the Bank has changes the loan to value ration is from 75 to 70, because of slow sales. Kent Hanway, host and ULI vice-chair for program provided the closing comments:

  • There is a potential loss of a generation, our children and the millennial generation, as they search out to more urban communities & cities to reside.  The need to make downtown housing available in Boise is imperative if we intend to keep and attract this generation to our community.
  •  The impact parking structure within a multi-family residential development has on a project’s proforma, and how some offset of these costs can significantly help the ROI.  This impact is significantly greater than paying more for the land, which is a minimal impact.
  • The significant amount of fees, taxes and connection charges collected by cities, ACHD, and counties required to proceed with development; noted at up to 5% on many projects.  Efforts to collectively look at these fees and determine if some of them could be mitigated would be a great first step.
  •  Downtown Boise has a “supply” problem, not a “demand” problem.  We need to bring into balance the challenge of costs for the various income levels to help meet the demand.  This challenge needs to be discussed amongst the development community as well as with the cities to help mitigate the current disparity.

A second program, Housing Product Types and Density-What’s Right for Downtown Boise was held on July 15, 2015. Keynote speaker, Gene Callan, AIA with GBD Architects described trends in Portland, Oregon which are driving the downtown housing market there:

  •  Younger population
  • A shift from owning to renting
  • Supply exceeds demand for housing
  • high occupancy – low vacancy
  • an increase of 32 to 42 in the percentage of rent paid to income in the past 5 years

Gene CallanGene’s theme was “build places, not projects” and once you build “place” people will spend more to live downtown. Carl Miller presented information on the demographics of Boise downtown and in comparison with other downtown. A  panel of four developers described their current plans and why they are investing in downtown:

  1. Michael Hormaechea said since the last housing was built downtown in 2009,  many more downtown amenities have been built. Even in the down market of 2010-13, fifty condos a year were sold. All of this motivates him to build  61 condos at 9th and River streets. His market profile are: people seeking an urban lifestyle; empty nesters; and investors or second home buyers.
  2. Joe Marsh, AIA, with CSHQA and representing Sawtooth Development described their condo project at Main and 10th that will have a loft feel.
  3. Joe Coyle, with the Michaels Group, said even with the set-backs, his company is excited about the 175 unit student housing project they plan: River’s Edge along the Boise River.
  4. Clay Carley said in creating the Owyhee Lofts he has taken a 180 degree turn from condos to apartments. The Lofts will be the first market rate apartments available in downtown Boise in 20 years. He said the struggle is the parking requirements and changing the parking rules is the key to stimulating more housing.

ClayJoe Coyle