De’Ja Vu’ University Land Deal

This is a story of how a $2 million land sale will obtain the $8 million East Jr. High from the Boise School District and finance part of a BSU athletic track complex for almost 45 years.

As it sits now, we don’t like the look or the smell of the deal involving Boise
Schools, BSU, Harris Ranch, and Brighton Corp.

The GUARDIAN has done the research, run some numbers through the calculator, read news reports and talked to school officials. The players will tell you we are being overly simplistic, but we think we have it right. Here is our take:

–The development known as Harris Ranch will have 2100 homes, creating the need for new schools, including relocation of East Jr. High with a new building at a new site.

–The Boise Independent School District recently sought and received voter approval for a $94 million bond that would be used in part for the new facility.

–The Harris family sold a 20 acre parcel to Brighton Corp. for $2.1 million.

–BSU and Boise Schools agreed to ultimately do a land swap June 19 after BSU got the land from Brighton… Schools get the 20 acre plot at Harris Ranch and BSU gets the old J-High for a track and field athletic site.

–Brighton got the land appraised at $5 million and sold it to the BSU for that price. The company reportedly took cash for a portion of the sale price and “donated” two or three million of the price to BSU for an income tax break. Smart move on the part of Brighton.

–Here is the rub: The land has restrictive covenants which PROHIBIT SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION! The Harris Family Partnership and the schools have been debating the issue since January without agreement.

–Harris Ranch was quoted in the Daily Paper Tuesday saying all parties were aware of the restrictions. They plan to maintain their property rights and they have declined to change the restrictive use of the parcel despite requests by the schools to do so.

–In summary, Boise Schools has agreed to accept land that is questionably worth $5 million in exchange for a school with 15 acres of prime downtown land valued at $8 million.

–A Boise Schools spokesman told the GUARDIAN the $3 million deficit would be made up by allowing the schools to use the facility until “everything is equal.” Based on the current annual Boise Schools expenditure of $67,000 for use of BSU sports facilities, It will take almost 45 years to recoup the $3 million shortfall incurred by BSU! Nice little loan on the part of Boise Schools to BSU.

Meanwhile, Boise schools have filed suit against Harris Ranch in an attempt to exercise eminent domain over the restrictive use of the 20 acres the schools will ultimately own.

With a nod to the debacle just a javelin toss across Broadway from East Jr. High at University Place, Boise Schools brass should have better sense than to deal with a developer and a University over a proposed construction project.

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