College of Western Idaho envisions three-building campus in Boise

Raising a CWI campus in Boise

A new College of Western Idaho campus in Boise could reach 20,000 students and reshape Boise's West End.
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A new College of Western Idaho campus in Boise could reach 20,000 students and reshape Boise's West End.

A proposed three-building campus in Boise for the College of Western Idaho would house business and technology classes along with a full array of instruction for students who wanted to transfer to a four-year institution such as Boise State.

College of Western Idaho leaders say they hope to have the first building, a 150,000-square-foot structure, ready for students by 2020. When complete, the school could serve 20,000 students, including those at the school and those taking online classes, said Bert Glandon, CWI president.

The college unveiled its plans Tuesday at 3150 W. Main St., where the Bob Rice Ford dealership was located.

Though leaders boasted about the school’s footprint in Boise’s West End, CWI has yet to come up with a final plan to pay for it.

“The board right now is exploring bonding and they are going to the (state) permanent building fund and having conversations with them,” Glandon said.

Trustees are also reaching out to businesses that have an interest in the school to see whether they would join in a partnership to help with construction.

CWI is proposing a two-part construction plan, with an estimated cost of $180 million. The school wants a new health sciences center and a student center for advising and other needs at its campus in Nampa. In Boise, CWI leaders want to construct just that first building, and the other two would wait for a future phase.

Both Ada and Canyon county residents would vote on a bond measure that would need a two-third majority for passage. An election could come as early as November.

Construction at both campuses would alleviate the need for rented classroom space that costs the school about $2 million a year, officials said.

Mayor Dave Bieter praised the school’s plan and said the CWI Boise campus would boost the area west of downtown, which is already seeing development.

The school is proposed in an area near the Boise River whitewater park and the soon-to-open Esther Simplot Park.

“CWI is adding to what is a great area,” Bieter said.