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Ahlquist on building corporate culture, role of parking & infrastructure in development

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Prominent Boise valley developer Tommy Ahlquist is unveiling a round of projects and ventures for his new firm Ball Ventures Ahlquist today on BoiseDev.

Many of the projects in the newly combined BVA/Brighton Corp. pipeline put a focus on amenities – including parking.

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Ahlquist points to the new Paylocity Building at 10 Mile Crossing.

“It’s set up for business, with open floorplates, a very flexible layout and lots of glass. You come out here and there’s a lot to like when everyone lives out here and it’s easy to get around and surface parking is included.”

He said parking is often the first and last conversation when it comes to developing projects. He says it’s a fact of life in the Boise metro area as it stands today – and will be for the near future.

“(Downtown) there are extra costs for parking – an extra $3.5 per square foot. Most companies are rate sensitive. We want to have the option to help them downtown, or elsewhere… we want to help them find Class A space.”

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In the short-term, he says Boise’s transportation options are limited.

“Public transportation is simply not even close to an option for people right now, so yeah, we think about cars. People want to live here and want to work here, but the transportation infrastructure is woefully inadequate. We have to figure out cars and parking for the immediate future.”

Longer term, the area has good “bones,” in his view – with the rail line along Interstate 84 and other advantages. But funding remains a challenge.

ALSO READ: From 2017 – An idea on transit for 2040

Boise mayor Dave Bieter floated the idea earlier this month of a ballot initiative to allow individual areas around Idaho to raise their own taxes to fund projects like transportation.

Ahlquist said for that to work, it has to be as much about the rural areas as the urban ones.

“(We should) leave it up to local jurisdictions to make choices – make sure the voters have a say. I worry a lot if it’s a big battle of Boise, and I’m afraid that’s the way it’s going to come across. I think more options for voters and jurisdictions is good, whether it’s public transit or buildings or anything else.”

Many companies looking to relocate to the valley are focused on the environment their employees will find when the arrive at work in Ahlquist’s view – and that’s a big focus for future projects.

“The name of the game is the recruitment and retention of employees,” he said. “Employers are trying to do things to help corporate culture and (their office space) is the glue that the culture holds it together.”

Amenities in future projects will be on-site food, fitness centers and more, something evident in the Zions Bank and City Center Plaza projects that Ahlquist helped spearhead at Gardner Co.

ALSO READ: With new firm, Ahlquist unveils big partnership, hospital development (not named ‘Saint’) & more

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