Our View: Big ideas get the support they deserve

OUR VIEW DOWNTOWN BOISE

January 31, 2014 

For years and years — let’s be honest, decades — Boise and the Treasure Valley have struggled to find a second wind for the region’s development that would propel it forward with a vision and purpose equal to the heydays of its storied past.

The Downtown hole at 8th and Main was a deep reminder with a frustration date going back to the 1980s. Expansion plans for the area’s convention business suffered at the hands of inner and outer squabbles facing the Greater Boise Auditorium District for the past several years. A future home for a mostly funded transit hub that could spur the reach and function of Valley Regional Transit languished for lack of a location like unclaimed freight in a bus station.

We and plenty of other citizens were beginning to wonder if the city of Boise, Capital City Development Corp., GBAD and VRT were ever going to get it together and get something done. Every stakeholder kept the faith and kept plugging, but it wasn’t until Tommy Ahlquist of Gardner Co. came along with big ideas, big pockets and even bigger aspirations that things began to happen.

He filled the hole with the beautiful Eighth & Main building, which houses Zions Bank and opens in less than two weeks. He is working with VRT to create the transit hub beneath the newly purchased U.S. Bank building.

And now he’s signed a letter of intent to include GBAD as a part of City Center Plaza, a $70 million retail-office-convention development the Gardner Co. plans to build on the U.S. Bank Plaza at the corner of Main Street and Capitol Boulevard.

Though there is much to be done and negotiated before the pieces come on line beginning in 2015, Boise and the Treasure Valley are on the move.

We congratulate GBAD Executive Director Pat Rice, his board, Mayor Dave Bieter and a host of Downtown business supporters who had the patience, perseverance and the good sense to draft off Ahlquist when they saw the wind they needed for their sails. We appreciate the nest eggs and grubstakes that GBAD and VRT accumulated to give these projects financial head starts.

We look forward to a new era in Boise that will resemble past successes when big ideas were recognized and everybody got behind them. This is truly a case of “build it, and they will come.”

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