(Updated 1/22/18 to give specifics of public disclosure and further comment from Scot Ludwig)
A local public official is planning to help revamp an area in downtown Boise and build a pair of linked mixed-use towers.
But concerns are being raised about whether he's breaking any rules by developing, so KTVB looked into it.
Scot Ludwig sits on the Boise City Council and urban renewal district, Capital City Development Corporation board. He's also the majority owner of Broad Street Properties, LLC.
There is a section in urban renewal law outlining what someone in Ludwig's position has to do and it says any violation is misconduct in office. Ludwig argues he's followed those rules to a T.
"This piece right here has an 11-story building and on the street here are four live-work units, two story," Scot Ludwig said as he described the plans for the property. "Third floor is office and then fourth and fifth floor decks are for parking that cross over to this lot to the south. And over here on the south is a nine-story building."
Along with office space and two stories of parking on a 44-foot high sky bridge over Broad Street, the 11-story tower will have five levels of condos.
The nine-story tower will have retail, restaurants, commercial and a parking structure.
"So it's a multi-use project with 300 parking spaces. All private, no public funds," Ludwig added.
Ludwig owns the properties he's looking to develop on 5th and Broad streets and they sit within the River Myrtle - Old Boise urban renewal district as well as Boise's Central Addition LIV District.
Because of his role as both Boise city councilman and CCDC commissioner, Ludwig says there's no public money in this project - even with parking, which is a service CCDC typically controls in downtown Boise.
"To avoid any perception of impropriety there won't be any application for public funds. All the parking will be private," Ludwig told KTVB.
Idaho's urban renewal law states in part: no city official or urban renewal agency commissioner can acquire any personal interest in an urban renewal project, in any property included or planned to be included in a district, or in a contract connected with urban renewal.
"I bought this property ten years ago and because I thought at some point in time in Boise's future it would be what it's becoming," Ludwig said.
He invested in the land - which is currently two separate parking lots - and the top three floors of the Idaho Independent Bank Building before joining the CCDC board in 2016.
Under urban renewal law, he was required to immediately disclose he owned the property and "shall not participate in any action by the municipality (or board or commission thereof), or urban renewal agency affecting such property."
"We just did some really gorgeous streetscape here. Of course I had to recuse on any votes along that line," Ludwig said. "Because in CCDC - I sit as a citizen on that board - when something comes up that's close by I recuse. So there's a history of recusals on anything that comes up like this streetscape and this information, I recuse because of the disclosure that I own this real estate. So I haven't taken part in a whole lot of decisions regarding this district."
I investigated those claims in public records and found Ludwig didn't formally disclose - in writing or verbally on the record - his property ownership in a public CCDC board of commissioners meeting until September 2016, which was three months after joining. Ludwig tells KTVB he did tell the CCDC executive director and legal counsel and Mayor Dave Bieter about his property ownership prior to joining.
CCDC meeting minutes show in Ludwig's first Board of Commissioners meeting on June 13, 2016, three items on the consent agenda were related to the Broad Street Improvements, but he did not recuse himself from approving the consent agenda. KTVB does not know the details of this process, as the CCDC executive director said he was not available to speak with us this past week.
Meeting minutes show Ludwig did disqualify himself from a resolution consideration on Sept. 12, 2016, which is when he verbally disclosed his property holdings in the district. However, shortly before that announcement, Ludwig again approved an item on the consent agenda. That item was a resolution approving a cost share agreement with the Ada County Highway District to rebuild Broad Street and South 5th Street ($326,000 contribution from ACHD to CCDC for Broad Street - LIV District Public Infrastructure Improvement Project).
In future meetings, Ludwig recused himself on decisions directly impacting his property and the Broad Street improvements around it, but not about the River Myrtle urban renewal district as a whole. He was also absent from several meetings in which the topic of Broad Street improvements was brought up.
"To do [this Broad Street project] was underway before I became a commissioner and when I first saw it as a commissioner I immediately recused and said, look I can't take part in this. So any decision about this was without my involvement," Ludwig told KTVB.
Even still, Ludwig's company and his proposed development will be benefiting from these improvements.
"If I'm going to be a public servant, I'm never going to cross that line," Ludwig added.
There are height restrictions on the plot of land where the nine-story building is proposed, so the project will go before the City of Boise Planning and Zoning Commission in March to try for a new height allowance.
Ludwig says he hasn't involved the city or talked to other council members about his project. He hopes to break ground in spring 2019.