Plans For (Mark) Rivers City

We listened to BoDo developer Mark Rivers enthusiastic gushings about some vague plans for a “Library Blocks”–six to be exact–development at the Monday City Club of Boise luncheon.

With numerous references to “instant gratification, A.D.D., three shot espresso, and strategizing,” it was hard to decide if the guy is “smooth” or “slick.”  Regardless, he is right in tune with Team Dave (Mayor Dave Bieter was in the audience) when it comes to street car trolleys, packing downtown with people and buildings at the expense of  taxpayers, and applauding the use of public money to help his projects.

When asked how much his projects contribute to the Boise City tax base, he danced around, but never came up with the truth which is NEARLY NOTHING…most of his tax money goes to the CCDC so it can subsidize more growth.  He did tell the listeners that without $8,000,000 in public projects from the City urban renewal agency, Capitol City Development Corp.  he wouldn’t have developed BoDo.

We asked four different people what Rivers said about financing a library with a “Public Private Partnership” and got four different answers.  We THINK he said it would cost $50 million with $25 million coming from taxes (a bond) and the rest through donations “and sale of city property.”  That seems to us as a “Public-Public Partnership” if you sell city assets…presumably to Rivers.

His library blocks project is looking at a mere 32 units out of 220 destined for “affordable housing.” Bottom line as the GUARDIAN sees it is Downtown development is  something that works only for the affluent with financial support from middle class residents in the remainder of the city.

An uncomfortable moment came when moderator Marcia Franklin of Public Television asked him about his involvement in a political campaign to unseat Republican Legislator Mike Moyle of Star. Moyle is at the top of the pecking order in the legislature and an open critic of CCDC and much of local government.  Moyle won the primary race despite Rivers’ efforts and money.

Rivers made a caustic remark about “some legislator from Burley,” and explained his attack on Moyle as necessary when people without vision and best interests of the city are in positions of power.  

He also seemed less than enthusiastic in support of a new Convention Center.

The GUARDIAN has been critical of all those pie-in-the-sky proposals as well.  We figure the much touted Hotel-Convention Center deal with the bid developer that was hyped in the Daily Paper will go the way of the tennis star dream hotel at Tamarack.

Comments & Discussion

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  1. You know, I have to tell you, I really enjoy this blog and the insight from everyone who participates. I find it to be refreshing and very informative. I wish there were more blogs like it. Anyway, I felt it was about time I posted, I

  2. Boise Whiskey Tango
    Jul 22, 2008, 1:30 pm

    I personally don’t begrudge developers trying to pull the wool over our collective eyes.

    I mean, heck – They’re Developers!

    Whaddaya expect them to do?

    Sleep with snakes, yer gonna get bit!

    What I do get quite angry about, is our supposed “Public Servants” who grease the skids for them.


    “Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote.” -Unknown

  3. I also happen to have some information that leads me to believe that the downtown convention center is all but dead. Boise’s traffic situation, the size of the property, the parking needs such a development would require, and some other factors make it highly unlikely to happen. However, I do believe we will see a new convention center of substantial size, but just not in downtown Boise.

  4. […] Guardian has their usual slant on anything that effects taxes: When asked how much his projects contribute to the Boise City tax […]

  5. “Moyle won the primary race despite Rivers’ efforts and money.”

    Wow, I never heard of someone with power and money trying to influence an election. This sounds like a nightmare. /end sarcasm

  6. Guardian: I posted another comment and somehow it dissappeared into the ether. Here it is again with a little more polish. Sorry if this is a double post.

    Did Marcia also ask how it’s fair churches don’t pay any property taxes, not even one dime? How about site’s like Goodman Oil? That site pays less per square foot than I do, or Marcia, or the Guardian on a lesser zoned property, that’s not even on the river.

    It’s virtually the same thing. Vacant and severely underutilized lots do not contribute their fair share. The problem downtown faces, or any downtown for that matter, is aging and decaying properties whose owners refuse to unload for speculative or just plain ornery purposes. To wit, Goodman! I’ve and others have written about his shenanigans.

    Suburban locales and raw land locales do not face this problem. Thus URIs are appropriate for downtown. I’ll even go one step further and opine that the City should take control of the Goodman site via eminent domain. Kelo decision anybody?

    Sure, property tax revenue is recycled wholly within the URI, but you’re ignoring the following; other new taxes are generated. Sales tax, income tax (from workers), alcohol tax, gasoline tax (via travel into the URI) and probably a slew of others.

    EDITOR NOTE–All true Cynic, but the CITY budget comes mostly from PROPERTY
    taxes. The rest of us make up what is lost to help the poor developers scratch out a meager existence. Gas tax goes to highways, and income tax goes to the state.

  7. 32 units of “affordable” housing. That leaves 188 units of “unaffordable” housing. How does that work?

    Can’t we please have a building moratorium? Affordable or otherwise.

  8. I’m not a fan of the Goodman Oil property at all. I have ridden by it 1,000’s of times on my bike. However, it is very, very difficult for me to accept that the owner’s are intentionally avoiding profitable development of it. When profits can be made that exceed the discount rate, it doesn’t require much greed for an owner to go after that profit. There simply has to be a lot more to this–devevoping commercial property is not as easy as it might sound to some.

    That said, I completely agree that the site is an eyesore, the Greenbelt should be elevated near that area because it is the first area that floods, and it sure seems like that location is a good location that should, at some point, command a lot of money from someone!

  9. curious george
    Jul 23, 2008, 10:14 pm

    Well, in another life I had an opportunity to work with some of the Goodman Oil family’s representatives about redeveloping some of their property — not their old oil compound, but their old Tiger gas station on the NWC of Capital & Morrison/University. I was left scratching my head with the implied sense of entitlement the family felt it deserved — it was “them against the world”. Representing my employer, I was opposed to certain characteristics of their development (a Jack-in-the-Box drive-thru) but pleased that something was going to be done with the property. But the family refused to accept that they would be responsible for reconditioning the property’s Capital Blvd frontage as a condition of the required zoning approval. Hence, the project died.

    But, their shyness about redeveloping the old Oil Yard next to the river probably stems from knowledge they have about the site’s soil contamination and the cost they would incur to clean up the polluted soil. The way the federal regs are written, even if they sold the site, they would still be held liable for cleaning up the contamination. And, knowingly developing (or selling) polluted land without divulging the contamination carries a $250K fine (and they still have to pay for the clean-up) — even a professional consultant (planner, architect, engineer) who knows of the contamination and does not reveal it can be charged a $50K fine.

    Some land owners in Ada County have walked away from contaminated property (mums the word), and let the land’s ownership revert to the county for back taxes. The county (that is, you & me) are left cleaning up the property — hoping that the land will be worth enough upon eventual sale to recoup the clean-up costs. There was such a parcel just west of the old ITT Tech building (now BSU’s Health Science Riverside bldg) next to the Boise River. Ada County took the land for back taxes and had to spend $50K to clean-up all the contaminated soil. The land was sold to a private developer, and tax payers were made whole, but at one point the county was trying to sell the cleaned-up property to either the City (for a Morrison Park parking lot — which may have helped out a certain councilmember’s daughter if it had happened) or to BSU for an expanded academic facility. If the land had sold to either of the public entities — tell me how taxpayers would have ever been reimbursed for their expenses.

    But as for River’s Moyle comment, he’s right on target. Moyle’s libertarian attitudes have won him fans in the hinterlands, but his efforts to undermine the ability of local citizens to plan for and fund their own public future have reserved him a special place in Hell. Moyle would like you to believe he’s anti-tax (any tax) & anti-big government, but in reality he’s anti-citizen who believes that the public is incapable of managing its own affairs and must be led by a wise enlightened leadership (his). He’s the worst kind of big-government, pocket-lining politician, and the sooner he can be led to greener pastures the better. If you’ve ever had the displeasure of spending any time with him in a closed room, it takes a good 24-hours to get the stench of smoke from his back room dealings out of your clothes.

  10. Tom Anderson
    Jul 24, 2008, 2:18 pm

    Some developement I’d like to see:

    -978 gazillion skinny houses, with no parking, put on 15′ wide lots ALL AROUND Dave Bieters house.

    -A Three Mile Island Memorial nuclear plant built on the Boise River across from Butch Otters house.

    -Extensive oil and natural gas exploration in all of the wealthy foothills neighborhoods.

    -Massive street widening projects in front of all the Ada County Highway District Commissioners homes.

    -Rezoning of Brandi Swindell and Brian Fischers neighborhoods to include brothels and bars.

  11. Mr. Rivers is the modern version of a snake oil salesman – only thing is that he has the mayor and city council drinking his brew – and they are addicted to it.

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