The Nampa-based College of Western Idaho, which came under fire this spring for agreeing to buy a Boise property without first having it appraised, announced Tuesday that the appraisal it subsequently ordered came in higher than the agreed-upon price.
The 10-acre property at Main Street and Whitewater Park Boulevard was appraised at $8.975 million, according to Integra Realty Resources, a Boise company which did the appraisal. The purchase agreement set the price at $8.8 million.
“The appraised value of the land reaffirms our confidence that this site is the best location for CWI to develop a campus to better serve the community college district based on its location, size, access, and cost,” said CWI Board Chair Mary Niland. “We are still in the midst of our 180-day feasibility period, and cost is one of the factors we are assessing prior to a final decision. We respect and appreciate the interest of the community in our campus development plans, and value the conversations this process has inspired and that we continue to have.”
The appraisal cost $4,000, college officials say.
Arriving at an appraisal presented some challenges, said Bradford Knipe, Integras’ senior managing director, and Robin Brady, director, in a letter to CWI summarizing the company’s appraisal.
Downtown Boise has few river front parcels available for sale of the kind CWI is considering buying and Integra couldn’t find any at 10 acres or larger. It found four parcels in the five to eight acres range and reported that they were higher priced, under contract. or limited in their use.
At the same time, the parcel – the former Bob Rice Ford dealership along the Boise River at 3150 W. Main St. – is in an area only recently zoned for high-rise buildings and the property is close to the Greenbelt.
In addition to the appraisal review, the trustees reviewed the Request for Qualifications results for a conceptual plan on the property, according to the news release. The board approved hiring CTA Architects for preliminary work on the proposed Ada County campus.
In April, CWI officials envisioned a multistory campus and garage on the property. Now school officials say the preliminary design work could give a more clear picture of what the campus would look like, including program needs. Among the possible options: a multistory building that would be phased in over time. School officials estimated cost at $70 million in April. But CWI officials say they don’t have an exact cost yet. CWI could come to voters for a construction bond to help pay for the campus or create a capital campaign.
The school decision to enter into an agreement to buy the property angered many Treasure Valley residents when they learned the assessed value of the property , for property tax purposes, was $3.6 million and the CWI board had not considered getting an appraisal. Board chairman Mary Niland apologized and the board reversed course.