Two separate companies are interested in building a food-processing plant on city of Nampa-owned land in the Ford Idaho Horse Park east of the Ford Idaho Center.
A plant by either one would entail private investment of as much as $85 million and jobs for dozens of people, said Beth Ineck, the city’s economic development director.
But it would lop 10 acres off the 110 used by one of the Northwest’s top showplaces for horse events. Ineck said the city will try to keep all 26 of the shows that regularly book the center each year, but it could lose a show for Arabian horses.
“The goal is certainly not to damage the reputation or the impact that the horse park has in the community,” she said. “We want to keep everyone happy, but at the same time, there’s this great opportunity to attract a new business into the community that would have a significant investment and a significant economic impact all on their own.”
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A plant would continue Nampa’s effort to transform its eastern gateway into a multi-use corridor. It would generate property taxes, and the city could use the money from selling the land to upgrade other parts of the Idaho Center, potentially attracting more shows.
Two companies approached the city last year to see if some of the horse park land was available for development, Ineck said. She declined to identify them. Later, Nampa proposed selling 16 acres just east of the Idaho Center building, which it also owns.
The companies liked that the land is close to I-84, a railroad and other industrial businesses, and that it has necessary utility connections, Ineck wrote in a Jan. 10 memo to new Mayor Debbie Kling and the City Council.
The site has landscaping where people sit to watch shows and a few dirt areas where competitors exercise their horses. Three shows — one yearly, one every other year and one every third year — use the dirt areas for competition events, Ineck said.
On Nov. 20, the City Council declared the 16 acres surplus property and planned a Dec. 18 public hearing on the proposed sale. After hearing concerns from organizers of horse shows, the city postponed the public hearing to Tuesday, Jan. 16. City staffers came up with a new proposal to sell 10 acres and keep the other six. The land would be sold at an auction, with an opening bid of $1.7 million.
“We do not know for certain who would actually bid on the property in an auction setting,” Ineck wrote.
The Idaho Center hosts 26 horse-centered events a year, Ineck said. Developing the land would more than offset the loss of an estimated $50,000 in city revenue from losing a few of those shows and other customers, she said.
Based roughly on the companies’ proposals, Ineck described an example that suggested a plant would cost $20 million to build. That would produce more than $170,000 per year in city property taxes and $225,000 to other property-taxing governments.
In the same example, Ineck estimated 40 new manufacturing jobs. According to Ineck’s memo, Boise Valley Economic Partnership economist Ethan Mansfield predicted those jobs would lead to the creation of an additional 60 positions in the surrounding economy, with a total compensation of more than $4 million and a total economic impact of $29.2 million.
The council is scheduled to vote Tuesday on whether to sell the 16 acres as planned originally, sell 10 acres, or sell nothing. If the council decides to sell 10 acres, Ineck said, the city will redraw lot lines for the property and schedule a public hearing for February on the proposal.