STORY Pamela Kleibrink Thompson | PHOTOS BY JIM PETERSON
If Boise’s convention space seems bigger and busier than ever, look no further than visionary David Wali. Wali, an executive vice president of the Gardner Company, worked with Gardner COO Tommy Alquist to craft a deal combining BSU’s business school, the transportation hub and the convention center. “It was a sizable undertaking, but we resolved problems for all of us,” Wali recalled.
Wali first met Alquist when Alquist was an emergency room physician at St. Luke’s in Meridian. On his days off, Alquist looked at development opportunities, and started his own development company in the early 2000s. Eventually, he became a principal at the Utah-based Gardner Company, a 35-year-old family-owned business with several projects completed in Boise. Wali noted that the City Center Plaza is the most visible, but his other favorite is the Sandbar at the Riverside Hotel. “It’s a great outdoor venue where you can see the river and have a burger,” he recommended.
A Van Nuys, California native, Wali first became familiar with Boise
during a December 1983 ski trip to Bogus Basin. He moved here to study business at Boise State and never left. He holds a seasonal pass for Bogus Basin to this day.
A serial entrepreneur, Wali was a partner at George’s Cycles and Fitness (he’s an avid cyclist) and he also co-owned the Cricket Clothing
Company with Kathy, his wife of 25 years. He finds inspiration in Nike founder Phil Nike, and his book Shoe Dog. Wali borrows his motto in life from a 1991 Nike ad: “There is no finish line.”
Wali’s impact on Boise’s development also extends to Twin Falls, where the Gardner Company completed construction of a surgery center with five operating rooms in January, and will complete a 55,000 square foot medical center in early 2018. They are working on numerous projects, including a movie theater in Nampa, Library Square in Nampa, Eagle Island Crossing, the Portico at Meridian, and West Valley Medical Complex in Caldwell.
“The Gardner Company is here for the long haul,” said Wali. While many people assume the Gardner Company is a large development company, there are only 25 employees in Boise. “We’re a small company making a big impact,” stated Wali. “I like being part of a small company that offers autonomy to their employees and allows them to get the job done. Gardner has less bureaucracy than other companies, but significant resources.” Gardner Company’s employees have expertise in initial planning, financing, design, leasing, legal, construction and property management.
Within hours of accepting the job with Gardner Company, Wali was putting together a plan to launch his first project with Gardner–the US Bank/Clearwater Convention expansion. “That’s where the Gardner Company excels. They do complex, influential projects for the community.” Projects in the future include completing Pioneer Crossing, the new Boise Main Library, and TM Crossing, a joint venture with Brighton Corp–a business park on 71 acres immediately northeast of the I-84 interchange at 10 Mile Road, which will be home to Ameriben, a Meridian human resources and benefits administration company; Paylocity, a Chicago payroll and human resource company; and Brighton, a Meridian home and commercial builder.
Wali has helped with numerous developments in Boise, including Hotel 43, The Riverside Hotel, Idaho Mountain Touring and BoDo. Wali was also the principal broker on the redevelopment of the four city blocks with Mark Rivers. What he likes most about the capital city is the “immediate access to so many exciting things to do–restaurants, cultural events and education are all within a manageable distance.” This transplant from Southern California noted that here “you don’t have to spend years of your life in your car. When you don’t spend all your time getting someplace, you spend more of your time doing things.”
While Gardner has helped transform the Boise skyline with Idaho’s tallest building, Wali is looking forward to his business partner transforming the state of Idaho as well, running for governor. Together, they might innovate more positive changes for Idaho.