Hyped Development Now Pathetic Footnote

Interesting note for GROWTHOPHOBES out Eagle way.

When the developers offered all the hype for a golf course community, the city fathers and mothers of Eagle jumped aboard and all crowed about pumping millions upon millions of dollars into the Treasure Valley annually.

It never happened because the developers didn’t have the money–as with Avimor, Tamarack, and most of the others it was all based on overly optimistic predictions…certainly sounds a lot like the Team Dave hype on the Desire named Street Car. With nothing more than blue sky and some bare ground, the lender is now trying to dump the property at public auction next Monday in hopes of recovering a few dimes on $38 million in outstanding loans.

For more details, check out the story buried on B-7 of Friday’s DAILY PAPER—a lot different play these days compared to the announcement three years ago.

Comments & Discussion

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  1. The Boise Picayune
    Dec 19, 2009, 10:10 am

    Living here is sometimes like attending a meeting for one of the many Multi Level Marketing Schemes that Boise is awash in at any given moment.

    Excel, AmWay, JewelWay, ACN, Scentsy, Hydrate, Trump, etc…

    Everyone’s all smiles and Rah-Rah-Rah until you point out the B.S. underlying assumptions, because you’ve actually done your homework and not just taken some “Region VP’s” word for all of it.

    Then you’re a “spoiler” and “someone who just doesn’t want to see [the person who invited you] succeed”.

    Invariably followed by avoidance weeks later when [that person] is out a bankroll and realizes what damn fools they are.

  2. Urban Sprawl, Here We Come
    Dec 19, 2009, 11:38 am

    It is hard to feel sympathy for either of the main parties.

    The developers didn’t make as much money as they hoped, but if this deal is like most of this sort, they turned a profit the day they got the bank loan and are now sitting on a beach somewhere sucking down cuba libre’s. Poor babies.

    The banks lost a bunch of money making loans their bonus burdened analysts should have been smart enough to turn down. They are now receiving free money from the fed to restock their portfolios. Poor babies.

    The local impact is more subtle. Having got the land “up zoned” from rural preservation or agriculture, to urban, the next owner will have a situation tailor made for urban sprawl. Don’t look for the counties or cities to dial back the zoning. They are in total denial.

    Once again, the citizens lose.

  3. …and today’s Statesman front page gives us a glimpse of the fantasy world being constructed out there. Check it out–7,200-square-foot to 12,000-square-foot chateaus for the Treasure Valley’s newly rich & not so famous–one couple’s design aspiration was to create a Disney world. If the gateway of the place going up for auction is an example, such taste must have been shared.

    I wonder if those folks have any idea how many people in the 3rd world could have clean, potable water for the cost of just half of their 7.5 or 8.5 bathrooms.

  4. Steve Edgar
    Dec 19, 2009, 4:06 pm

    I really do not like doing this but “I tried to warn them”…Reference my article back in July 2007; almost 2 1/2 years ago…”P&Z Commish Wants Growth Moratorium” in your archives. I did not have a crystal ball nor some inside track on where our economy was headed but I did see, as many others did as evidenced by the huge response to that piece, that we were on a fast track to over extending our Valley resources..’nuff said. Now we need to relook at these issues and LEARN from our overzealous approach to growth…You forgot to mention M3 — The Cliffs — Hidden Springs — and a host of other “approved” projects. If I am not mistaken the Eagle City Council is approving or has approved another foothills project of about 1800 homes just this month! Dave, keep up the good work. We need constant vigil to protect our quality of life…Thanks and I wish you Happy Holidays and an even Happier New Year. Steve Edgar

  5. Casual Observer
    Dec 19, 2009, 5:18 pm

    The situation at Ada County could not be more absurd. Development Services is recommending approval, and the Commissioners are approving, back to back applications for new mega subdivisions and time extensions for stalled “approved” subdivisions.

    As this is being written, a 6000 plus lot, “Planned Community” is scheduled to appear before the Ada County Commissioners. Like a bunch of unreformed Lehmanists, Ada County Development Services, headed by Jay Gibbons, recommends approval of the mess.

    This, on top of 10,000 other lots in stalled subdivisions they themselves have approved in the last three years such as The Cliffs, Avimor, Arbor HIlls, Vista, Cartwright Ranch, and others. Valley wide, according to COMPASS, there are an additional 33,000 lots in stalled subdivision.

    It is appropriate they now call the department “Development Services”, instead of Planning and Zoning. Planning could not be farther from their minds.

  6. Noticed that Blaser’s 12,000 square foot home has never been occupied and is unfinished. Let me guess: He hasn’t paid his bills.

  7. “With nothing more than blue sky and some bare ground,”

    I think in this case it’s “gray sky …”

  8. Edgar…I have to take exception to you lumping Hidden Springs in with other barely started or stalled communities. All developed lots commercial or residential) with Hidden Springs are sold. The Developer has tied up loose ends and exited. Around 750 of the 850 lots are built upon and occupied…the remaining 100 are owened – a few by individuals but the majority by builders. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater…not all planned communities in Ada County were ill conceived and/or the victim of poor timing.

  9. Add to your list the massive condo project on Crescent Rim. All hype and NO logic.

    The project is now being mothballed – no units sold. Bill Clark thinks so much of himself that he thinks he will sell units for over $300 a square foot…but he has never been connected to reality.

    So now he does not want to pay for any traffic improvements as per his conditional use permit. Looks like he is broke and out of money..but he told the city that money has “never been an issue”.

    April foolsCity of December.

  10. Casual Observer
    Dec 20, 2009, 4:05 pm


    I think Edgar is right. By your own estimation, 100 of the 850 lots remain unbuilt. That is the definition of stalled. Also, keep in mind that the application documents called for HS to build out in 10 years. It is now about 20 and counting, with the help of the biggest housing bubble on record, and build-out remains elusive.

    Also keep in mind that current HS was supposed to be phase one of a multi phase project. Phase two was spit off into a separate development called Cartwright Ranch that, though approved, is utterly stalled.

    Add in the fact that heavily touted trip capture never happened. The required commercial center remains little more than a mail drop, and, last I heard, the EMS/Fire building is unmanned.

    So, yes, HS does have more constructed homes than most of these pie in the sky projects, but it remains a far cry from what the developer promised, and what Ada County approved.

    EDITOR NOTE–And in January Boise FD is set to provide fire service–many miles outside the city–on a contract basis for North Ada Fire District.

  11. Steve Edgar
    Dec 20, 2009, 5:43 pm

    Antiphobe & Casual Observer, Both of you capture the essence of my point, while Hidden Springs is the ONLY Planned Community that attempted to meet the intent of the PC development, sadly, it fell short. The Charter School failed, the Post Office is barely hanging on and the FD was an unmanned facility for a number of years and yes, trip capture, due to a lack of commercial entities within HS – failed and actully increased the number of vehicles in and out of a remote community directly contributing to increased pollution. If I recall we had 7 PC projects on the books as approved and only 1 even came close; Hidden Springs, yet even HS still failed in total accomplishment of PC goals. The rest are failed hulks or never even broke ground. Ada P&Z Commission just approved the Dry Creek PC which is 3,500 homes on 1,415 acres sandwhiched between Avimor and Hidden Springs…is this really the answer at this point? The Dry Creek Ranch application for ammendment states “The proposed comprehensive plan includes a vision statement, a list of coordinated goals, objectives and policies, a conceptual land use map showing the proposed general land use patterns and circulation systems, economic feasibility study, infrastructure and financing plan, a natural features analysis, a narrative describing the proposed land uses and the design of the subject site, an assessment of the land use, public service, environmental and transportation impacts, a transportation and mobility plan, community services and utilities plan, an open space, parks and trails plan, wildlife mitigation plan, narrative and examples of central design concepts, a phasing plan, a letter from the school district, and a narrative of the storm water management plan.” Lofty goals that each and every PC must attempt to meet yet we have no enforceable code to ensure success. My issue is with continuing to approve these PC developments even when many have failed, stalled or simply are empty lots at this juncture. I believe we should work on these before we approve more. The dry Creek application is soon to be on our County Commissioners agenda, it will be interesting to see their comments.

  12. My point is simply this…don’t blame Developers who play by the (albeit lame) rules to win approval. Change the rules, don’t hate the player. None of them (players) have done anything wrong. There always seems to be a misguided Growthphobe tone of disdain towards Developers, when in reality the venom should be spat on the system.

    Counterpoint regarding Hidden Springs Charter School – it didn’t fail, it worked perfectly by bridging a necessary gap until being taken over by the Boise School District. Ultimate BSD will purchase a District quality school for half the price it would have cost them to construct a comparable facility…maybe less given what amounts to donated underlying land contributed by the Developer.

    EDITOR NOTE– Of course there would not have been any need for a school had HS not been developed. AND there will probably be the need for another school once the Dry Creek development is built.

  13. Antiphobe, Your points are well taken and valid. I also agree with your observation on the “lame rules”. If it was one thing I learned from my experiences in this arena, the P&Z Commission has no legal ability to disapprove ANY project if the applicant complies with the code for application. The body is only a “rubber stamp” on an application and the majority of public hearings only provide a venue for public support/discourse on projects, not approval or disapproval only a public pacification. Your assessment that the rules are lame is spot on. The only peg the P&Z commission can hang a project up on is “Public Safety / Health / Welfare”. Such as a lack of traffic control, fire protection or water issues.

    Maybe we should eliminate the P&Z Commission (saving taxpayer dollars) and place the burden directly upon the elected officials, (read County Commissioners) so that the electorate has a body to hold accountable for the change in rules so desperately needed. In this setup if the public is unhappy and the County Commissioners do not respond, at least the public can vote them out/in as necessary to achieve public desires. As it stands now, the County Commissioners are shielded by the appointed P&Z Commissioners. At points in my tenure on the P&Z Commission I felt we were only another layer of screening to wear the publics involvement thin. So in short, the system is a huge part of the overall problem and in need of change.

  14. “Don’t blame the developer”. “Planning and Zoning has no authority”. Geez guys! At what point in the process is “common sense” applied? It doesn’t take rocket science to figure out that HS had no prayer of attaining the projected trip capture that they forecasted. There was no way that the Fire station would justify it’s location. There was no possibility of making that development “cacooned” at any level! Both of the proposed additional developments have the same assurance of failure. Why are we discussing throwing good land after bad?

  15. Not only is the Crescent Rim Condo project a flop I hear that Mr. Clark is being sued regarding the Jefferson Place project. Just do a Freedom Of Information request from Boise City.

  16. About the only point I disagree with in the last four or five posts is Edgar’s comment that, “the P&Z Commission has no legal ability to disapprove ANY project . . .” It seems to me that the utter lack of codified code allows both the P&Z and the County Commissioners to use the ““Public Safety / Health / Welfare” clause to approve, or deny, just about anything they want.

    The State Land Use Planning Act requires cities and counties to develop comprehensive plans. Ada County spent about 6 months and $100,000 the last time they did a major update. However, after updating the plan, they neglected to codify it. As a result, even though the glorious, much debated, plan is in place, it has no teeth. It is simply “advisory.” The Commissioners can use it as justification to approve, or deny, applications. Or, they can ignore it altogether.

    The currious thing is that they continue this charade knowing full well that they do a huge disservice to both rank and file citizens, and many developers as well. Ignoring the citizenry is common enough but, as reported here a couple years ago, attendees of the developer centric “Leadership Conference” in Sun Valley voted, almost unanimously, for the codification and enforcement of development guidelines by all the jurisdictions in the valley, cities and counties alike. A clear set of development guidelines, it turns out, makes like more predictable, and therefore safer, for the developers than does the current state of chaos.

    All of which gives Cyclops observation even more poignancy. Turning down some, (most?) of these dogs of developments not only makes good sense, it is what almost everyone, except the developer of the moment, wants. You would think the commissioners could get on the right side of that.

  17. I think the giant hole downtown is a monument to the savvy minds of the development authorities in good ol’ Boise.

  18. I miss the ranters on this blog defending the “growth pays it’s own way” concept. It is true, but only with massive taxpayer finacial bailouts.
    Where are all those pious “free market” bloggers now?

  19. Until our elected officials figure out how to mandate urban infill we are going to be stuck with developers going further and further out of cities to buy cheap dirt. Cheap dirt and the development projects create the need for more city services like police, fire, parks, schools, water, sewer, electricity, gas and commercial development and the list goes on and on. Nobody gives this much thought whent the approve these ticky-tacky projects. All they see in more tax base for their community.

    It has been estimated that every house out in “Toilet Terrace” takes about one acre to support for streets, commercial projects and other uses.

  20. Back to Legacy….
    Wasn’t it supposed to have all kinds of schools to help-push your child to succeed in the sports world? (IMHO-a development for those parents who failed in their own mind about being some sports icon-who would live through their child’s success).

    Also, I believe I heard someone was floating around some development here centered around some sort of winery.

    There are some real crazy “themed” subdivision ideas floating around out there.

    What ever happened to the “Sweetwater Junction”, Movie studio south of Boise, and the “World Class” NASCAR track that was going to be built near Blacks Creek? All colossal failures!!!!

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