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. 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: http://www.downtownboiseliving.org/ 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’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:
- 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.
- Joe Marsh, AIA, with CSHQA and representing Sawtooth Development described their condo project at Main and 10th that will have a loft feel.
- 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.
- 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.