St. Luke’s to buy M-K’s former Boise headquarters

Washington Group Plaza includes four buildings and 556,000 square feet of office space.
Washington Group Plaza includes four buildings and 556,000 square feet of office space.

St. Luke’s Health System is planning to buy Washington Group Plaza, the 24-acre office campus east of Broadway Avenue between Park Boulevard and Front Street.

The purchase would greatly expand the real estate holdings of Idaho’s largest health system. The plaza was built in phases more than 30 years ago by Morrison-Knudsen Corp. as its corporate headquarters.

St. Luke’s says the purchase would allow it to expand its Downtown headquarters, which is about a half-mile north. The nonprofit health system is already planning a multiyear expansion and renovation of its flagship hospital, starting with an 80,000-square-foot Children’s Pavilion.

St. Luke’s isn’t saying how much it will pay. The property was valued at nearly $44 million this year by the Ada County Assessor’s Office.

The campus is owned by Second City Partners, of Vancouver, British Columbia.

“St. Luke’s chose to negotiate a contract after the owner of the complex approached us with an opportunity to purchase the property,” said Anita Kissee, spokeswoman for the hospital system.

St. Luke’s has leased space within Washington Group Plaza since 2013, Kissee said. About 370 employees are working at or are relocating to the building known as Plaza 1, the first structure in the complex, built in 1970. The campus was completed in 1982.

Plaza 1 houses several St. Luke’s departments, including clinical training, clinical research, human resources, information technology and operations improvement. It also will house St. Luke’s Center for Learning and Development, a training hub for hundreds of employees.

Morrison-Knudsen Corp., a Boise engineering company, designed and built dams and other large projects around the world in the 20th century, but fell on hard times and was sold several times starting in 1996 to owners who replaced its name with their own on the company. The first of those was Washington Group International, for whom the office campus is still named. The last, Aecom, moved its last remaining employees at the plaza to Meridian last year.

It remains unclear whether plaza tenants would have to move if St. Luke’s completes the deal. About 500 state employees working for the Idaho State Tax Commission, the Department of Fish and Game and the Department of Finance work at the site.

Kissee did not disclose further details, including St. Luke’s plans for the site.

The Idaho Business Review earlier reported the pending sale of the full complex.