Gary Hawkins spent part of his childhood living in a small home behind Boise's Vista Village on the Boise Bench. In the 1950s and 1960s, Boise was a small sleepy town with loads of potential, but didn't stand out much in size or scope from other cities in the region like Bozeman or Spokane or Eugene.
In 2018, though, Boise has seen a renascence and has grown into a regional powerhouse - with big gains in population, culture and influence. Just about once a week a new piece in the national media touts Boise or Idaho as a whole.
Hawkins, has a foot in both worlds. He grew up in a smaller, sleepier Boise - but now helps shape the town's potential.
The inaugural BoiseDev Developer of the Year is Gary Hawkins of Hawkins Co.
His biography reads like it was written by a computer algorithm trained in Idaho facts. Grew up in Boise. Scouted sites for Albertsons. The ability to peel 100 pounds if potatoes in about half an hour.
Hawkins has developed more then 200 projects across the country since starting his firm in the late 1970s.
In the last few years, his company has put increased focus on the Treasure Valley.
“This is our hometown and we love it," Hawkins told BoiseDev this spring. "I live downtown and have for years."
That love led him to acquire the Capital Terrace project at 8th and Main Streets. The beleaguered project has seen better days. It helped kick off the rebirth of Downtown Boise in the 1980s, with a large parking garage and attached retail. But it's painted concrete look hasn't aged well - due in fact to a lack of upgrades by the original owners in recent years.
Hawkins stepped in to buy the property in April.
“I like the property and when I found it was available, I thought this would fit nicely in our portfolio," he said. "We do work all over the country, and it's nice to do something in our hometown."
Plans are underway to give the building a makeover - with new finishes and updates. A covered farmers market is even on the drawing board. With its location along Boise's growing "restaurant row," the retail has potential to be part of the latest revolution in Downtown Boise.
"We love the location," he said. "We think it’s one of the best locations in Boise."
It's not the only project Hawkins has his finger in. The company lists 13 properties for lease in Boise alone, with more in Meridian, Eagle and across the state.
The new Emerald Station project adjacent to Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center on Curtis Rd. would be anchored by two medical office buildings for St. Al's, plus the entry of Cascadia Healthcare to the area. Future retail, office and possibly even a hotel would revitalize the former school site in a part of Boise needing some attention.
His company is also behind the large North Pointe development at State St. and Gary Ln. A 323-apartment complex blends with new retail - featuring Native Grill and Wings, Black Bear Diner, Coldstone Creamery, Smashburger and more. The project has been in progress for the past several years, but got fully up to speed in 2017, adding more options in a major retail corridor near Walmart and Albertsons.
Hawkins also owns the land under and is an investor in Inn at 500 - a new hotel with more than 100 rooms, balconies and local art. The hotel opened in early 2017 and adds a new signature touch to the southern portion of the Downtown Boise core.
From his beginnings in a small home on the Boise Bench, to a prolific developer with a love of Boise - Gary Hawkins is the very first BoiseDev Developer of the Year.
Choosing the first Developer of the Year
Boise is a hot bed of activity these days - and selecting just a single developer to highlight wasn't easy. Of all the options, we narrowed it down to four:
Tommy Ahlquist of Gardner Co.: This year his company began construction on Pioneer Crossing and Ten Mile Crossing, as well as several other small developments.
Mike Brown of LocalConstruct: Brown and his firm have been active with the redevelopment of the Watercooler, construction of The Fowler and more in the works.
Clay Carley: Carley is building a new apartment project at 5th and Idaho, as well as working on a new hotel and garage downtown.
Gary Hawkins: We ultimately chose Gary this year because of the diversity of projects his company is pursuing around Boise - from downtown to the Bench to the State St. coridoor.