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Murgoitio won’t go to the Harris family. But the city hasn’t stopped work on the park site’s future

The City of Boise won’t trade the Murgoitio park site to the Harris Family after all, but it likely won’t stay the way it is now either. 

On Tuesday, Boise City Council heard a brief update on what’s to come for the 160-acre parcel on the city’s southwestern edge. City officials will take the next month to evaluate options for the future of the property and study some of the legal restrictions on it before moving ahead with a new plan. It is unknown yet exactly what options are on the table for the council to consider. 

[Murgoitio family applies to annex land into Boise for 1000s of homes. But it’s not the park site]

A bigger than expected price tag

Last month, the city created a wave of public complaints when it announced it was considering the possibility of a land swap with the Harris Family to develop the Murgoitio site with below-market-rate housing and a 7-acre park in exchange for open space in the foothills. Mayor Lauren McLean announced late Monday afternoon the deal was off the table after the latest appraisal estimate came in far higher than the worth of the property offered by the developer to trade. 

A broker came back to the City of Boise this week estimating a value for the parcel ranging from $32 to $38 million, which is far higher than the estimate from 2020 when the deal first surfaced. City officials are also still waiting on an estimate from a second broker. These estimates of value assume the land will be annexed into the city and developed for residential development at roughly 8 units per acre. 

One of the other parcels in the annexation proposal sold this month for $12 million. That site is 15-acres in size along Victory Rd., and the bid values it at $800,000 per acre.

McLean kicked off the workshop saying she planned to meet with activists for the park in Southwest Boise in the coming weeks, but housing remained a priority.

“We are looking at all of the tools we have to the benefit of Boise residents,” she said. “We are having a conversation and meeting with neighborhood leaders this week and will continue to have a conversation about the best way to get what Boiseans need most right now, which is affordable housing.”

What are the city’s options?

Jennifer Tomlinson, Boise’s parks superintendent, said the city plans to hold a hearing to annex the Murogitio parcel and several others into city limits on August 7 at Planning & Zoning Commission and a work session with City Council on August 17th to discuss options for the Murgoitio site’s future and the restrictions a former council placed on the land decades ago. 

In the meantime, the city is in the process of contracting with an outside law firm to study the legal requirements the city has to comply with to compensate the Boise Airport in exchange for removing its restrictive covenants.

City Council President Elaine Clegg said she is interested in hearing what the public has to say on the possibility of annexation of the Murgoitio site next month and finding a solution for the parcel with the rest of the council. 

“I would like to understand what our options are and what our goals as a city are and how we can think about those and also think about the things we’re hearing from the community and their goals,” Clegg said. “I don’t know what the right process is on August 17th or the right decision, but those are the things I would like to see come forward so we can continue to begin figuring out what is the future of the site.”

Margaret Carmel - BoiseDev senior reporter
Margaret Carmel is a BoiseDev reporter focused on the City of Boise, housing, homelessness and growth. Contact her at [email protected] or by phone at (757)705-8066.

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