As executive director of Capital City Development Corporation (CCDC), Phil Kushlan is in the right place at the right time. Downtown Boise is poised for a massive urban renewal and reinstatement as a cultural, economic and social center, and it is Kushlan's job to ensure that related developments support CCDC's vision of a thriving capital city.
BW: How did CCDC come to be?
PK: CCDC was created in 1965 under the state statutes governing urban renewal. It was initially known as the Boise Redevelopment Agency and focused on bringing the regional retail mall downtown. That effort failed after a 20-year attempt, and eventually the vision changed to one of reinvesting in the historic fabric of downtown and developing the mixed use (office, retail, entertainment and residential) area you see today. When the focused changed in the mid-80s the name was changed to the Capital City Development Corporation to reflect a more entrepreneurial enterprise.
How do you define urban renewal?
Urban renewal is almost an archaic term. The British use the term "regeneration," and that sounds more appropriate. I see this concept as the ongoing reinvestment in a city's core area with a goal of maintaining economic and cultural vitality.
As leader of the organization, what is your role in development?
Most of what we do involves the development and maintenance of partnerships. Much of my time is spent on those relationships, whether with other public agencies, community organizations or private development entities. My internal role is to convey the vision of downtown to staff members and to ensure they have the resources they need to effectively function in the roles we have asked them to assume.
What sorts of conflicts come into play when you're dealing with territorial issues, tastes, special interests and the greater vision of a vital, efficient, diverse city center?
We are fortunate in that, to a large degree, the vision for a vibrant downtown is shared by the broader community and policy leaders alike.
What are some current projects CCDC is involved in?
BoDo is the current major effort. We are providing the parking structure located at Myrtle and Capitol and the internal street and sidewalk improvements. We are working with a number of people on the development of market-rate, urban housing. There are nearly 400 units in various points in the approval process. We conducted marketing studies to demonstrate the market for this type of housing. We are also completing a multi-agency effort focused on how people will move around the downtown area in the 30-year horizon. The Downtown Boise Mobility Study (partnership among CCDC, Valley Regional Transit Authority, ACHD, City of Boise, Boise State, COMPASS and Idaho Transportation Department) looked at vehicular movements, pedestrian and bicycle systems and the development of a circulator system (potentially a streetcar) to connect the activity areas of downtown.