Appraisal for CWI land in Boise takes into account size, river and Greenbelt

CWI intends to purchase this parking lot for construction of its new building in Boise. Photo by Pete Grady.
CWI intends to purchase this former car dealership and parking lot for construction of its new campus in Boise. Photo by Pete Grady.

An independent appraisal has confirmed the College of Western Idaho’s offer for a parcel where it plans to build its Boise campus.

CWI had offered $8.88 million for 10.3 acres at Main Street and Whitewater Park Boulevard.

The Boise office of New York-based Integra Realty Resources, a commercial real estate valuation firm, appraised the value of the former Bob Rice Ford car dealership property at 3150 W. Main St. at $8.975 million – more than double the $3.6 million assessed value assigned by the Ada County Assessor.

“Downtown Boise parcels available for sale having Boise River frontage are few,” IRR’s  Bradford Knipe and Robin Brady wrote in their appraisal for CWI. “To our knowledge there are no other downtown parcels available for sale at or above 10 acres, and the four available tracts in the 5- to 8-acre range are much higher priced, already under contract, or severely constrained in their use potential.”

IRR’s appraisal said the combination of acreage, the proximity to river and the Greenbelt, the signalized intersection and the pending price agreement already in place between CWI and the Rice Family Trust that owns the land, make the $8.88 million price “in fact reasonable, if not slightly below-market.”

The pending purchase price originally drew heavy scrutiny because it far exceeded the assessed value and CWI had not first sought an appraisal. Commercial real estate experts explained that appraisals usually come later as part of the due diligence process, and that purchase prices can change during that process.

CWI is about halfway through the 180-day due diligence and expects to have a decision for the purchase by its expiration on Oct. 20.

“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 in a news release. “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.”

These tasks include an environmental review, land survey, preliminary conceptual design work, and discussions with faculty, staff and community to determine what programs to place at the Boise Campus. The building will consolidate CWI’s presence in Ada County.

“There are several things we want to do to make sure we would have the ability to build a campus,” CWI spokeswoman Jennifer Couch said. “We want to make sure we don’t see any obstacles in developing there.”

CWI’s board of trustees has brought on the Boise office of CTA Architects to prepare a conceptual plan of what a Boise campus may look like in term of layout. CTA declined to comment about its involvement at this time.

Couch said the Boise campus would likely offer comprehensive general education courses that are needed for transfer to a university, but probably not trade-related courses.

If the due diligence period proves successful and the CWI purchase proceeds, CWI will want the first phase of construction completed by 2019, at which time most of the CWI leases in Ada County expire. CWI is planning a campus able to handle double the current Ada County student count or 12,000 to 15,000 people, Couch said.

“The idea is that we get a three-campus community in Canyon County, Ada County and online,” Couch said.