Member Login

Riverfront view: CWI hopes developers will help build public-private partnership campus along Boise River

The process to build a new campus for the College of Western Idaho along the Boise River is rumbling to life.

As BoiseDev reported this spring, the community college serving Ada & Canyon Counties decided to move forward on building out campus locations in both counties. In Nampa, CWI plans to build out its existing campus along Idaho Center Blvd. And in Boise, a long-stalled project to build on the site of the former Bob Rice Ford property at Main St. and Whitewater Park Blvd. went back into motion after several years without progress.

CWI issued a request for proposals last month, seeking a developer with a “creative proposal” and a track record of “design and construction of public-private partnerships with education institutions for mixed-use facilities.”

The 10-acre property has significant river frontage along the Boise River, with the Boise River Greenbelt running through it. It is adjacent to Bernadine Quinn Park and the nearby pond. The property was used as the Ford dealership until 2003, when under the ownership of Lithia Motors it moved to its current Fairview Ave. location. The property has sat largely unused for the last 20 years, and the dealership buildings were torn down in 2010.

Proposals sought

CWI Boise 2016 rendering
A rendering released in 2016 of a vision for the College of Western Idaho Boise campus. Via CWI

CWI purchased the property in 2015, and announced plans for a campus, but later retreated. A 2016 bond election to finance $180 million of improvements failed to meet the 2/3rds majority needed.

In the request for proposals, CWI outlined a list of what it wants to see from the campus, and from development proposals. The first is a new 60,000-square-foot building that the college would finance and own for classroom space. The facility would help CWI move out of leased campus space across Ada County. The RFP says the so-called CWI Building would need to be in a prominent location on the site, and feature a plan for a future 100,000-square-foot building expansion for future growth.

The site plan would also need to provide “sufficient parking and access to diverse mobility options for students.” College leaders also hope to see a “signature civic space” on the site for public use, as well as engagement of the river and Boise River Greenbelt.

The other major component of the project would be a private development project that would “generate revenue through a ground lease between the developer and CWI.” CWI doesn’t outline what it hopes to see, and earlier this year school president Gordon Jones said they didn’t want to have a preconceived set of ideas.

“We want to step out and invite our developer community to come alongside this effort in doing a public-private partnership, where developers, we hope, see our vision and the beauty of that property and what could be to satisfy the learning needs we have and marry with their creativity about what could be,” he said.

CWI-owned site. Via CWI

The area around the possible school campus could see a significant transformation in coming years. Another former car lot on the opposite corner is in the early stages of construction on a multi-phased apartment and retail project. The old Roundtree Chevrolet site will host The Avens from Boise-based developer Roundhouse. The complex is the first of multiple phases on the lot that could bring more than a thousand new apartments.

Other proposed apartment projects include Local Boise, 27th & Fairview apartments, The Fletcher, and 25th & Fairview. In all, more than 2,000 apartment units are envisioned in the area. The CWI campus could draw proposals for additional apartments, retail and services — or a mix.

The college said a variety of funding sources are possible, including revenue from ground leases, the Idaho State Permanent Building Fund, college reserve funds, certificates of participation, or donor funding.

Proposal evaluation

CWI will evaluate all initial proposals based on a mix of criteria, including company profile, financial capacity, development team, previous experience and “significant local economic presence.”

An evaluation panel will cut the number of applicants down to between three and five, and that group will be invited to give more detailed proposals. CWI will evaluate the overall vision – including how the plan interfaces with the City of Boise’s comprehensive plan, the Capital City Development Corp’s 30th St. Urban Renewal Area plan, and CWI’s vision and mission. They’ll also score the detailed proposals on how they integrate CWI’s facilities in the vision, engage and activate the river and greenbelt, as well as parking, budget, scheduling and “philanthropic intent.”

From there, two finalists will be selected and taken to the CWI board for approval.

BoiseDev Project Tracker

More to read

Don Day - BoiseDev Editor & Founder
Don Day - BoiseDev Editor & Founder
Don is the founder and publisher of BoiseDev. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow. Contact him at [email protected].

Top Recent Stories