Smart City Initiative
The American economy continues its shift away from resource production and manufacturing
to information technology, and Idaho is part of this change. In Idaho, the technology
sector contributes more to the state's gross economic product than agriculture, timber and
mining combined. The new economy is focused on innovation in high tech and other industries,
and its resource base is people: mobile, creative, well-educated workers. A 2007 Brookings Institution
study found that 38% of Idaho’s population lives in the Boise metro area and produces 48% of the
state’s economic product. Creating a place that is attractive to this new economy is a top priority in
economic development efforts nationwide, and is the driving force behind the Boise Smart City Initiative.
The Boise Smart City Initiative, originated by CCDC and the mayor's office in 2000, is a citizen-led effort
to identify what the people of the new economy are looking for in a place to live and work, and to create
such a place in Boise. The committee’s recommendations are summarized in the
Smart City Initiative Committee Report, and guide most of CCDC’s work in downtown Boise.
The Pioneer Corridor redevelopment project is another Smart City recommendation.
Downtown Housing Initiative
The crucial nature of housing to downtown vitality was one of the primary observations of the Boise Smart City
Initiative. Residents support retail activity at a rate 20 times higher than workers, strengthening existing
businesses and making a wider range of restaurants and shopping possible. Having people present in downtown
both during the day and at night adds to its vitality and safety. With housing, downtown becomes a
neighborhood as well as a business district.
In response, CCDC has made the addition of downtown housing choices its highest priority and developed
the Urban Housing Initiative to accomplish this. Research shows a sizeable market in Boise for downtown
- Abour 30,000 people work downtown every day
- Only 2,000 people live in downtown multifamily dwelling units
- 63% of Boise's population is 1-2 person households
- Downtown Boise has a rich mix of amenities for residents
In 2009, developers added 142 condo units to downtown, bringing the total since 2007 to 265 units.
Downtown Boise is the largest employment center in Idaho and many of the people working in downtown would like to live there. The "workforce," defined as those people who earn between 80% and 140% of area median income, often have difficulty finding housing options in downtowns. The marketplace is generally able to deliver options for higher income households and government programs can assist with affordable housing for lower income-qualified households. CCDC is especially interested in finding ways to help those in the middle. CCDC convened the Workforce Task Force, which identified barriers to development of workforce and recommended that CCDC take the lead in working with a broad coalition of private and public interests to remove those barriers. The task force helped develop the CCDC Workforce Housing Policy, adopted in January 2007. Since then, a coalition of developers, builders, real-estate professionals, lenders, and employers along with representatives of housing agencies, CCDC and city staff idenified tanigble policies, incentives and tools that would encourage the development of workforce housing. The Workforce Housing Coalition is working toward implementation of these policies, incentives and tools. In 2009, the Ada County Association of Realtors created an employer-assisted housing training program that will help Realtors work with major employers on homeownership programs.
Downtown Living Survey
This survey identifies the types of households seeking to move downtown, the housing options that appeal
to them and types of amenities they see as important to their decision to live in downtown.
Boise Downtown Housing Analysis
CCDC commissioned a housing market analysis to take an in-depth look at Boise's potential.
This analysis examines housing activity in Portland, Seattle, Denver, Salt Lake City and Memphis,
and identifies the factors that are driving these markets. It reaches a positive conclusion that currently
downtown Boise has an unmet market demand for urban housing.
Downtown Housing Design Workshop
Using a case study approach, a workshop team including developers, architects and urban designers,
real estate analysts, brokers and CCDC board members and staff engaged in an intensive design study of
the six blocks surrounded by Ninth and Myrtle streets, Capitol Boulevard and the Boise River. The study
answered questions on how to design complimentary housing projects at this pulse point, incorporate
structured parking, and improve the streets to create a distinctive and attractive place.
Downtown Boise Mobility Study
The DBMS focuses on how to design a transportation system that will prevent downtown from choking
on traffic as it changes over time. Six agencies — Valley Regional Transit, Boise City, CCDC, Ada
County Highway District, Community Planning Association of Southwest Idaho, and Boise State University
— and a consultant team headed by ARUP's transportation planning division, completed the
report in 2004.
Key outcomes include:
- Create a multimodal transportation system to serve downtown Boise, including roadways, transit and an excellent pedestrian and bicycle network. Enable people to park once and meet their daily needs by using alternative modes of transportation.
- Develop a downtown multimodal center that would link downtown Boise to the regional transportation system, and create a much more robust regional transit system that is a practical alternative to using automobiles for commuting.
- Make improvements to the Connector so it is capable of carrying more traffic but also is more pedestrian and bicycle friendly. Create better north-south connectivity for pedestrians and bicyclists across the Connector.
- Use traffic demand management, intelligent transportation systems and better signal timing spread.
The DBMS has been adopted by Boise City, CCDC, Community Planning Association of Southwest Idaho (COMPASS) and ACHD.
CCDC’s mission statement includes a commitment to the “triple bottom line” of economic vitality,
social well-being and a healthy environment. CCDC adopted the Sustainable Development Policy that guides the agency's efforts to promote and facilitiate sustainable development in all its activities. In 2009, CCDC produced a flyer for developers and the general public titled "Making the Case for Sustainable Buildings in Boise," and cosponsored research at BSU for the report "Green Building in the Pacific Northwest: Next Steps for an Emerging Trend"
The Boise Smart City Initiative identified the city's geothermal heating network as a potential resource
that sets downtown Boise apart from other locations. CCDC commissioned the Geothermal Feasibility Report that provides an overview of the geothermal
system and its potential. The report identified opportunities
for potential roles for CCDC in expanding the use of geothermal energy. For more information, visit the city’s
geothermal system web page.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency defines brownfields as "real property,
the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential
presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant." The EPA brownfield program provides
financial and technical tools to support economic redevelopment of properties with real or perceived
contamination. CCDC has received grants and continues to work with the EPA, Idaho Department of
Environmental Quality, Sage Community Development and other partners to promote brownfield redevelopment
Education & Job Creation
The Water Cooler is an innovative high-tech business develoment center in downtown Boise, housed in a warehouse owned by CCDC at the corner of 14th and Idaho streets. This project is providing space and support to 14 entrepreneurial start-up companies and is looking at ways to expand its mission beyond the original facility. In May 2009, the Water Cooler celebrated its first anniversary and shortly afterward it graduated two tenants who moved on to larger spaces. In 2009, CCDC received a $200,000 federal earmark that will be used to upgrade the building and expand the programming. In May of 2013 the Water Cooler will celebrate it's fifth anniversary. Three companies have graduated and over 80 jobs created.
Arts & Culture
Art and cultural expression are essential elements in the vitality of Boise's downtown,
contributing to the inviting sense of place CCDC seeks to achieve. Each of CCDC's urban renewal
plans calls for a commitment to public art as part of its revitalization efforts. Consistent with
these plans, CCDC has become one of the primary sources of funding for public art in Boise since 1978.
These investments are guided by CCDC's Cultural Investments Policy and the recent
Downtown Arts & Culture Plan. Most of CCDC's investments in arts and culture are made in partnership with the City of Boise Department of Arts and History.
We have long suspected that the arts, especially the performing arts, contribute to the economic
vitality of a city--now we know just how much. With CCDC funding, Boise participated in a nationwide
study in 2007 (with information from 2005) to quantify the economic impact of the arts. In Boise the
nonprofit arts are a $38 million industry. Download the
Current Arts and Economic Prosperity report.