With most of the planning completed and the deals done, Boise’s urban renewal folks are about to extend their long arms to include another 200 acres or so that will not generate revenue for the city.
The Daily Paper has a lengthy file on the latest urban renewal plot. Its about the 30th Street-Fairview area which has been the subject of years of bad decisions by city fathers and (mothers) through bungled land deals. Now, they want to divert taxes to the CCDC (Capitol City Development Corp.) to rejuvenate the blighted area.
R. Fred Rice, one of the property owners of a former car dealership told the Statesman’s Sandra Forester, he wants to see an urban renewal district created to pay for improvements that would encourage development and drive up values up. “I would have done it 15 years ago. It will bring buyers down here much faster.”
Some folks would call it a smart move to wait for taxpayers to pay for improvements to drive up prices.
Prior to 1968 the Fairview-Main Street corridor was traveled by every car and truck going between Salt Lake City and Portland–in the days before the Interstate. After the connector was built, car dealers and other retailers fled west along Fairview.
CCDC made an illegal purchase of land in the area of 23rd and Fairview ostensibly for a parking lot to shuttle shoppers and visitors to the downtown area. It failed. When they got caught, Boise City purchased it, claiming it was the ideal location for a police headquarters. Then a few months later they purchased the old Larry Barnes Chevy property and declared it the new ideal place for the cop shop. None of that ever happened and they were stuck with blighted vacant lots. The cop shop eventually was located in a former Hewlett-Packard facility off Emerald west of Maple Grove.
In a three way trade about four years ago the city tried to encourage a private for-profit hospital at 27th and Fairview, but St. Luke’s bought the property and the doctors. There is a commercial dog kennel and rock climbing wall on one parcel–thanks to a 50 year lease from the city. The rest is bare ground–“brown fields” in the lingo of planners.
In summary, the area is indeed blighted and needs a fix up. Idaho law places the CCDC and all urban renewal agencies out of reach of voters and taxpayers. Once an agency is created, they are beholding to no one. The GUARDIAN sympathizes with the group who seek some accountability from urban renewal agencies, but their efforts at reform, repeal, and voter authority have been ignored by the politicos.
The “elephant in the room” in all of this is the pet project of Team Dave to build a ball park for the Chicago Cubs organization–Boise Hawks. Using urban renewal funds and rules to construct tax-exempt public works projects is contrary to the intent of the law. The city should divest itself of all holding not in the public purpose and sell the land to the highest bidder at public auction. Then the free market can do its magic. If speculators hold out for taxpayer subsidy to “drive up land values,” there will never be true prosperity.
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