Wanna Pay For 200 Jobs?

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.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. G-Man, you have mentioned a lot of this in the past. Seems like Team Dave has indeed “spent” the proceeds from land sales several times over. Perhaps they just “intend” to sell the land.

    Not sure if 200 jobs are really worth the cost of engineer studies and road building efforts.

    This post will prompt Wonk and Ryder to shake their pom poms like good development cheerleaders and then go home and kiss a wife.

  2. Grumpy ole guy
    Oct 15, 2007, 12:22 am

    I have to confess that I don’t fully understand the implications of all of this. Nor, I further confess, do I remember the history of this land being held by the City.

    Is it that the City OWNS the land, or that it is private land which lies within the City’s area of impact and the Council has (encouraged, directed, ordered, prayed, dreamed) that it could and should become an “industrial park”? It seems, on the face of it, that it would be a good location for industrial (commercial) development; but, I realize the devil is always in the detail.

    If the City PURCHASED the land, then obviously it has to yield some of its control or direction in the development of OTHER pieces of land (in other physical locations). It does seem fraught with the possibility for mischief and good old Ceaser’s wife is never really very pure after hanging out with that crowd, is she.

    EDITOR NOTE–The problem as I see it is the city OWNS land and the council has declared said land to be SURPLUS and not in the public interest (or need) and yet little pieces get chipped away for business uses.

  3. 200 Job’s created at less than $10 an hr.
    Chances are no benifit’s. So all these people that are forced to work there will be on some kinda of public assitance for medical. Damn aren’t we proud. Even our goverment is working to
    make third world conditions in this country. Lets give the CEOs another raise. Its become the American way of thinking.

    EDITOR NOTE–WinCo and Team Dave claim the jobs will pay “in the teens.” Perhaps, but businesses don’t come to Boise with hopes of paying high wages. Idaho wages increase at an above average rate many years. That’s how we went from #46 to #45 in wages the last go around.

  4. Joe in Boise
    Oct 15, 2007, 10:12 am

    I approached the city a couple of years ago in hopes of renting or leasing the property at 23rd & Main (the old car lot) to be used as a car lot. The city would have made no improvements, just collect a check for a couple of G’s a month for letting an entrepreneurial citizen use the property to start a new business venture.

    After several phone calls, the city real estate spokesmouth said “We arent sure what we are doing with that property, I will get back to you”, he never did, and the property still sits vacant. I know of others who have tried to purchase or lease the property, to no avail. I guess we werent on the right “list”.

  5. curious goerge
    Oct 15, 2007, 6:22 pm

    I’m not sure any amount of city effort was involved in securing the WinCo warehouse. The company is employee-owned and has always been headquartered in Boise, I can’t imagine the employees would have ever wanted to locate their warehouse anywhere but in the Boise area.

    And the term “well paying” seems to be a little overstated. Although “in the teens” could mean as much as $39K/year – this is still only 80% of the median income in Ada County (and probably no where near what these hardworking folks will be actually earning).

    With this income a worker could purchase a home worth about $145K – which means that a lot of these folks will be buying homes in Mt. Home, but not Boise. There goes the collateral tax benefits, and any benefits to the Boise or Meridian School Districts.

    Maybe these 200 will be buying in Kuna (maybe). If Kuna were a little closer to the freeway, WinCo would have located there. Hardly a ringing endorsement for Team Dave.

  6. shealyisnottheantichrist
    Oct 16, 2007, 8:29 am

    I am with Curious George, (or Goerge). No ringing endorsement for Team Dave’s work in managing the city’s property. We should have elected Chuck Winder. Private sector people who have experience handling property and real estate issues are sorely needed on the City Council and in the Mayor’s office.

  7. Boise Banker
    Oct 17, 2007, 4:31 pm

    Curious Geroge and others,

    Even at $39k a year these people will be lucky to be able to pay rent, they will not be buying homes unless by some miracle they have $100k in equity from their first home. Besides that $50k median income number for Ada county is for all household income. If any of these people will have working spouses they should manage to make that $50k or even more if the spouse works full time.

    WinCo does offer good benefits to its employees, to settle that question. They even have a fairly low turnover rate compared to other grocery chains.

    At least these are jobs that pay well above minimum wage and only require a GED/highschool diploma or maybe even less. Maybe some burger flippers/assembly line workers will have a chance to move up the socio-economic chain; even if it is just a little bit.

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