Boise & Garden City

Update: Boise council approves purchase of 840 acres near Stack Rock in Foothills

This aerial image, looking southeast from Avimor toward Boise, shows the location of the 840-acre piece of ground the city of Boise expects to buy from a group linked to the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System.
This aerial image, looking southeast from Avimor toward Boise, shows the location of the 840-acre piece of ground the city of Boise expects to buy from a group linked to the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System.

The Boise City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve the purchase of 840 acres near Stack Rock Reserve.

The story below was published Nov. 27, 2017 under the headline: “Boise to buy 840 acres near Stack Rock in Foothills.”

The city of Boise is set to buy 840 acres northwest of Stack Rock Reserve, a popular hiking and mountain-biking area in the Boise Foothills.

The city has agreed to pay $420,000 for the land, which is located in Boise County, according to a Nov. 3 purchase-and-sale agreement.

Unofficial, “rogue” trails cross much of the property, Boise Parks and Recreation director Doug Holloway said. Once the city takes possession of the land, Holloway said, it will start developing a plan for a permanent trail system.

The land belongs to a company called AR Boise, LLC, which is connected to the troubled Dallas Police and Fire Pension system. Idaho Secretary of State records show AR Boise was established in Texas in 2005. Its name was later changed to M3 Eagle, LLC. Tyler Johnson of Land Advisors Organization, the owner’s agent, declined to say who or what organization is behind AR Boise. Holloway also declined.

Until recently, M3 Eagle was working with the pension system to develop vast real estate holdings near Boise, said Bob Taunton, a private consultant for the pension system’s fiduciary adviser, Hearthstone, Inc. The real estate holdings and planned developments on them were designed to anchor the pensions of city of Dallas employees. But those plans have not progressed as hoped, and the pension system has teetered near insolvency.

It’s unclear what plans, if any, the pension system had for developing the land Boise is now buying.

If it goes through, the Stack Rock deal would be the latest in a long line of land purchases Boise has undertaken to protect the Foothills from development. Using money from a $10 million levy Boise voters approved in 2001, the city has acquired thousands of acres in the Foothills. Holloway said Monday the total value of land that has been protected is about $40 million.

Distressed assets like the one near Stack Rock are one reason the city has been so successful in leveraging its original $10 million. Boise bought Hammer Flat, 700 acres of prime habitat next to the 35,000-acre Boise River Wildlife Management area, in 2010 for $4.1 million. A developer had planned to build homes there, but the deal fell apart. Boise later sold Hammer Flats to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game for $4.23 million.

Boise has also acquired easements to keep a variety of Foothills trails open to the public.

After the Stack Rock purchase, Holloway said, Boise will have only about $118,000 left from the 2001 levy. But money from a new levy, which voters passed in 2015 and then re-approved this month, should start accumulating early next year.

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