Simplot owned the land around a CCDC property up for auction. It got outbid, prompting a tie vote

A piece of property owned by Boise’s redevelopment agency for nearly 20 years caused a rare split decision from the board of the Capital City Development Corporation last week.

CCDC purchased a former home site at 429 S. 10th St. from a Boise couple in 2001. The agency hoped to then buy other properties around the small 3,500 square foot piece of land to promote a development along Myrtle St.

The future of a high-profile downtown block

In the intervening years, another company had the same idea. A company controlled by the Simplot family began purchasing properties on the same block.

JP3, a division of JRS Properties now owns almost the entire block bound by Myrtle St., 11th St., Miller St. and 10th St. – right across from Jack’s Urban Meeting Place.

The only two parcels it doesn’t own include a parking lot owned by Foothills School – and the empty CCDC land.

Simplot CCDC land

The property sits in the River Myrtle Old Boise urban renewal area, which will terminate in just a few years – 2024. The agency’s work in the area will end, and all dollars must be spent or returned to other local taxing agencies.

The CCDC board decided in July that the site at 429 S. 10th Street was surplus and should be sold off to the highest bidder. The agency didn’t previously have a property disposition process, so it created one under Idaho law.

Now, the outcome of that process put the agency in a bind.

The high bidder wasn’t the JR Simplot Company, which owned all the surrounding properties. Instead, another local firm, Clark Development said it would pay the most for the property.

Clark bid $205,000. JRS bid $202,000.

‘Tough decision’

Bill Clark told the agency’s board during a meeting last week that he didn’t have a specific plan for the property right now.

“It’s not a baseball stadium,” Clark said jokingly. “We have a history of development in downtown and near downtown in developing parcels and joint venture work. We own other property in the vicinity of this parcel.”

Ray Kaufman with JRS foreshadowed the tie vote early in the conversation.

“You’ve got a tough decision here,” he said. Looking at the best long-range interest of the city, (you should) award it to the owner of the surrounding property, and is more likely to get it developed. If you leave it the way it is, I’m afraid it’s going to be a parking lot for decades to come. And the city will miss the revenue streams and the employment base from that.”

Kaufman said Clark would have the same problem that CCDC had with the property – it is too small to build anything on, and without the other properties, it will sit vacant.

It also could stymie any plans Simplot has for the block. Currently, the company uses it for overflow parking for its nearby world headquarters building.

The board deliberates

The tie vote came after extensive deliberation of the board. Only six members of the CCDC board attended the meeting. The seventh – Boise Mayor Dave Bieter happened to be at a debate with Boise City Council President Lauren McLean at the time of the meeting. Bieter would have had the deciding vote.

“We declared this a surplus piece of land,” board chair Dana Zuckerman said. “What happens to it next is not our business, because we considered it a surplus piece of land. I want to remind everybody of the process that we agreed to pursue. It concerns me greatly to deviate from that considering that is what we are bound to, once we are entered into that process.”

Board member and city council member Scot Luwdig offered a differing view. JRS pointed to stipulations in the bid packet that said CCDC could terminate the bid process for any reason it determines appropriate.

“In this setting and in this agency, the goal is to develop real estate and to create tax base,” Ludwig said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that this is an intention to hold the parcel hostage and flip it eventually. The real goal here is to develop projects and real estate and the economy. And that’s the real mission of our agency.”

“We can’t really cherry-pick in disposing of our property just because someone else has assembled surrounding parcels,” board member Ryan Woodings said.

Board member and Idaho State Senator Maryann Jordan aligned with Zuckerman.

“I’m really worried about defending the integrity of the process here,” she said. “Yes, this may be small, and yes this may be a less than common use of this too. And yes, we may do this again. Will (this) leave people thinking ‘it won’t matter what (the board decides), it could just change in the future?’ That really troubles me.”

It’s a tie

In the end, a roll call vote was held.

Jordan, Zuckerman and Gordone Jones voted to award the high bid to Clark. Ludwig, Woodings and Ben Quintana voted no.

A tie means, essentially, that the bid was rejected. The board will now have to decide what to do next with the land.

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