Boise’s Bungled Property Deals Focus of CCDC Project

With most of the planning completed and the deals done, Boise’s urban renewal folks are about to extend their long arms to include another 200 acres or so that will not generate revenue for the city.

The Daily Paper has a lengthy file on the latest urban renewal plot. Its about the 30th Street-Fairview area which has been the subject of years of bad decisions by city fathers and (mothers) through bungled land deals. Now, they want to divert taxes to the CCDC (Capitol City Development Corp.) to rejuvenate the blighted area.

R. Fred Rice, one of the property owners of a former car dealership told the Statesman’s Sandra Forester, he wants to see an urban renewal district created to pay for improvements that would encourage development and drive up values up. “I would have done it 15 years ago. It will bring buyers down here much faster.”

Some folks would call it a smart move to wait for taxpayers to pay for improvements to drive up prices.

Prior to 1968 the Fairview-Main Street corridor was traveled by every car and truck going between Salt Lake City and Portland–in the days before the Interstate. After the connector was built, car dealers and other retailers fled west along Fairview.

CCDC made an illegal purchase of land in the area of 23rd and Fairview ostensibly for a parking lot to shuttle shoppers and visitors to the downtown area. It failed. When they got caught, Boise City purchased it, claiming it was the ideal location for a police headquarters. Then a few months later they purchased the old Larry Barnes Chevy property and declared it the new ideal place for the cop shop. None of that ever happened and they were stuck with blighted vacant lots. The cop shop eventually was located in a former Hewlett-Packard facility off Emerald west of Maple Grove.

In a three way trade about four years ago the city tried to encourage a private for-profit hospital at 27th and Fairview, but St. Luke’s bought the property and the doctors. There is a commercial dog kennel and rock climbing wall on one parcel–thanks to a 50 year lease from the city. The rest is bare ground–“brown fields” in the lingo of planners.

In summary, the area is indeed blighted and needs a fix up. Idaho law places the CCDC and all urban renewal agencies out of reach of voters and taxpayers. Once an agency is created, they are beholding to no one. The GUARDIAN sympathizes with the group who seek some accountability from urban renewal agencies, but their efforts at reform, repeal, and voter authority have been ignored by the politicos.

The “elephant in the room” in all of this is the pet project of Team Dave to build a ball park for the Chicago Cubs organization–Boise Hawks. Using urban renewal funds and rules to construct tax-exempt public works projects is contrary to the intent of the law. The city should divest itself of all holding not in the public purpose and sell the land to the highest bidder at public auction. Then the free market can do its magic. If speculators hold out for taxpayer subsidy to “drive up land values,” there will never be true prosperity.

Comments & Discussion

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  1. Regarding the last paragraph and potentially using URA funds to move the stadium idea forward; an interesting case in Santa Clara county regarding urban renewal funding of $30 million in support of the new 49ers stadium. Since URAs were disbanded in the golden state and their funds dispersed back to the counties, Santa Clara county opted to renege on the $30 million and instead put those funds to use on county projects not stadium related. The 49ers are suing of course. A judge issued a TRO freezing the $30 million, county can’t spend it, until the case is resolved through the courts.

  2. What a great place for a communal garden, a bus stop, and a low income housing project. Just like back when Mao had such a happy place for his devout followers. Clearly Boise’s divine leaders are wise and envision that our sacrifice now will pay big dividends in the future. This is a great leap forward!

  3. This is exactly why the legislature needs to recend the Urban Renwal laws. If they do not the taxpayers will all pay a heavy price…in the form of higher levies and more tax.

  4. There already are community gardens, bus stops and low income housing in the area and that is the problem. If you’re even moderately successful you’re not going to want to live near any of those things. To wit: The Boise Cascade folks demanded that a new transit center NOT be built in their back yard.

    Many things led to disinvestment in the area, but the final nail in the coffin was the extension of the connector completed in 92.

    Read this history of the West End:

    Guardian: You seem to blame the city for the blight and vacancy. That was already there before city ownership of the 2 lots. Bare lots which are regularly mowed are lots better than the Goodman Oil property. I don’t get it. Why don’t you go after private entities with the same vigor that you go after public entities?

    If there’s any criticism to be doled out to the city, it’s the city’s refusal to make the Goodmans tear down those dilapidated buildings which are clearly a threat to health and safety and an impediment to any development in the area.

    Who would want to build anything near the Goodman property?

    You can also blame Mayor Amyx for cutting the deal with the Quinns in the annexation deal of 1970 or 71. All planners back then wanted open space zoning for the area but the Quinn’s got their industrial zoning and got to operate/sell off a site that had industrial zoning for another 25/30 years.

  5. One of the worst things that never happened was ACHD’s failure to build the 30th Extension for all these years. The 30th Extension and a watery park at 31st and Pleasanton were proposed all the way back in 1968. ACHD was formed in 72.

    44 years! That’s how long ACHD (city of Boise before 72) has been working on widening roads for the suburbs and ignoring the obvious need for a boulevard to connect State to Fairview/Main and cap off the ugly and useless dead end streets which are a safety hazard due to fire trucks having not enough room to turn around.

    44 years of spending tax money collected downtown on projects outside of downtown.

  6. I believe the Boise Guardian needs to reeducate itself on the taxes and levies around Urban Renewal Areas. Boise does benefit from taxes collected on these properties. Future increases in property tax assessments go to the URA. This is a great tool to generate funds to rebuild, renew blighted areas. The past owners sure did not do anything with it. Not all taxes, levies are a bad thing.

    EDITOR NOTE–As noted, much of the area is bare ground. Taxes on any improvements constructed or appreciated value go to the CCDC for at least 20 years. You can argue improved economy, trickle down, visually improved, but the fact remains the city, county, schools, and highway district receive NO REVENUE on any of the “increased property value” through either construction or price hikes. Public works projects like libraries, court house, ball park, convention center, etc. are all TAX EXEMPT and generate no taxes period.

  7. Why should all those out-of-downtown taxing districts receive any of that revenue? It’s the URD that creates the new revenue. New revenue that would not have even existed without the URDs help. Twenty years of recycling the tax increment is a fair trade off in my opinion.

    Some complain that the public works projects generate no tax revenue but forget that downtown Boise is subject to demands that no other section of town, county or any place in the whole State is subject to. Sun Valley is a comparison and the State has given Ketchum the local option tax capability.

    Thousands of people flood downtown every day from outside city limits and even from outside the county. Office workers, State gov’t workers, college and high school football games, bike races and triathlons, and river floaters and so on…

    If all those people were flood water then downtown would be deemed a disaster area.

    Hate to sound like a broken record but cities have little power to run their own affairs. URDs give them a little extra power that’s something more than just planning and zoning.

  8. And another thing, the most visible and onerous property tax gizmo of all and one we never hear about is the homeowner’s exemption.

    Sure, homeowners get a break but thousands of renters are getting the shaft by having to cover the landlord’s greatly increased property tax.

    If renters only knew!


  9. Dave K – The Guardian is very correct in his evaluation and his “education” is extremly deep. Just a suggestion…please contact the City of Boise and volunteer to pay more taxes and higher levies on your properties…the rest of us would gladly support your personal contributions so our levies can be lowered.

  10. Cynic: The Goodman Oil property sold a couple of months ago.

  11. In other news ( which involves Boise selling land) that scream you hear is Tony Jones up on Hammer Flat as IDFG has taken the locks off the gates and is allowing public access on Hammer Flat.

    Well Mr. Jones, you had your own private Idaho for a little bit.

  12. chicago sam
    Jul 11, 2012, 3:23 pm

    When will the vote by the citizens be held?

  13. I wonder if they can talk Target Stores into a downtown location?

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