We admit it isn’t real sexy, but the GUARDIAN is not comfortable with the way Team Dave is managing the City land holdings and real estate speculation.
The latest cause for concern evolves around a political announcement by Team Dave that WinCo would build a 700,000 square foot “distribution center” adjacent to a big block of Boise taxpayer owned land west across I-84 from Micron and south of the Outlet Mall and Gowen Road.
At first it sounded like harmless political hoopla “creating 200 jobs” aimed at pleasing the Chamber of Commerce audience in an election year. Then we learned the WinCo land adjoins a couple hundred acres of City land and is also bordered by the City owned “railroad to nowhere.”
A little noted budget item was tucked neatly away for $113,000 to study use and rehab of the City rail property. Many people thought it was for the stretch between Boise and Nampa. Not so. It is abandoned track south of the city. Handy for industrial park users, but growthophobes will tell you the city should stay out of the rail business.
Both the Cole’ administration and now the Bieter administration aim to develop rails and a business park in the area. Doesn’t sound too sinister we admit, but the City Council has recently (about 2 months ago) declared the land to be “surplus” and no longer in the public interest.
The City has hired an engineering firm to look at sewer installation and hook ups on the sage brush covered vacant land. They have also approached the Ada County Highway District in hopes of getting some access roads built.
ACHD has offered public right-of-way if WinCo wants to pay for the construction. A Team Dave spokesman said roads could also increase the value of the City land. We agree, but question if it is proper for Boise City to get into the development business offering roads (or funding of roads and sewers) to businesses. Such incentives run counter to growthophobe philosophy.
By all appearances it looks like the current City fathers–and mothers–have been saddled with property they shouldn’t have, don’t need and can’t sell without taking a hit in the Taxpayer’s pocket…not a good position to be in during an election year.
In addition to the desert industrial park property, the city has sites along Fairview and Main in the area of both 23rd and 28th. Those were acquired for downtown shuttle parking and a police station. Neither use was ever made of the land and sale of one parcel was supposed to pay for the other. It never happened. The City Council declared that land to be “surplus” at one time and authorized payments of up to $80,000 to a real estate buyer to do the deals, but it also never happened. Payments were made for some services, but we never learned the amount.
State Code is pretty liberal when it comes to City and county land swaps and purchases, but for the most part, SALES have to be done at public auction to the highest bidder.
AND THAT’S THE RUB. Team Dave has used this “land bank” to entice businesses to town, leased portions to commercial enterprises (leases don’t require auctions), and offered below market value lease options to a gas powered electricity generation firm. While at the same time they claim the City will use the revenues from SALE of the land parcels to fund projects such as libraries.
We think they should take a hint from Corey Barton Homes and cut the losses now. Sell the speculation property and let the market do its thing. So far, Boise City has yet to unload ANY citizen owned speculation land and they are dumping more tax money into “due diligence” in efforts to increase the value. Does the “Downtown Pit” sound familiar?
Finally, to put the 200 warehouse jobs in perspective. WalMart employs 200-500 at each of its Ada County stores and CostCo has about 300 employees.
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