This summer has put a sudden spotlight on Southwest Boise. As the Boise area’s population explodes and drives home prices up, city officials and Southwest property owners have begun to realize how valuable property there has become.
Steps toward large new developments are being made on four properties in the area. If all projects go forward as planned, it will mean more than 1,160 acres of Southwest land could be developed into as many as 6,600 homes.
The properties push right up against the Southwest area of impact limits, reigniting the decades-old debate as to whether the Southwest Boise Area of Impact should be annexed.
Mayor Lauren McLean considers Southwest development a good thing: the more homes to help address the housing shortage the better. However, some residents in the area are mourning the loss of a community once considered to be a quiet, rural alternative to living within Boise limits.
Much of the area considered for development is now used for farming. The prospect of exchanging the view of crops for rooftops is not one relished by many. Southwest resident Judy Hobson lives on land overlooking the Murgoitio parcel, a property that has been farmed for decades. The city promised the land would become a park someday, but now officials want to sell it to a developer.
“When people would come over, they would look out at our beautiful view and say, ‘Won’t you be sad if they build houses?’ and we would say, ‘No, the city has promised that we’ll always have our view,” Hobson said.
The Murgoitio parcel
Location: Between South Cole and South Maple Grove roads just north of the New York Canal
Size: 160 acres
Potential new homes: More than 1,200
Since February 2020, the city has been considering giving this city-owned land to the Harris family in exchange for 250 acres of Foothills land. McLean said Harris developers building high-density housing on the site would help alleviate the local housing shortage.
On Monday, McLean called the deal off, saying it no longer made financial sense. Last year’s appraisal put the Murgoitio land value at $7.8 million. A new appraisal this week put it between $32 million and $38 million. The appraiser assumed the land would be rezoned to allow up to eight homes on each acre to find this number, meaning the site could see more than 1,200 new homes.
At Tuesday’s City Council workshop, McLean reaffirmed that “housing is our priority” on the Murgoitio parcel and that the council was “looking at all the tools that we have for the benefits of Boise residents.”
Southwest residents continue to fight against efforts to develop housing there and demand the park they were promised.
West Junior High School
Location: 8373 W. Victory Road
Size: 15 acres
This property owned by the Boise School District as part of West Junior High School was auctioned off this month for $12 million to Welltower Inc., a real estate investment trust in Ohio known for its health care infrastructure investments; and Layton Construction, of Utah, according to documents obtained by the Idaho Statesman.
As a stipulation, the city must annex and rezone the property for the deal to go through. The property lies just north of Murgoitio, and the city is seeking to annex the parcels at the same time. Both touch the area of impact’s northern border at West Victory Road.
The companies plan to build a “wellness focused housing development” with a mix of single-family homes, townhouses and apartments. They have not released the number of anticipated homes.
“The focus of our Wellness Housing communities is a foundation of four pillars of wellness — quality, social, diet and fitness. Elements which encourage residents to meet, interact and spend time with each other, thus building a community,” the Welltower Inc. bid offer states. “Community gardens, fresh food delivery, culinary classes and activities which encourage healthy lifestyles. Landscaped open space, dog parks and a resort-style pool that encourage residents to spend time outside and further social engagement, as well as indoor/outdoor fitness areas, are some of our featured amenities.”
Location: South of Lake Hazel Road and 5 Mile Creek, between Cole and Maple Grove roads
Size: 383.6 acres
Potential new homes: 3,452
Property owners, who include the Murgoitio family and Don Hubble of Hubble Homes, have applied to build a planned community with nine homes per acre for a maximum of 3,452 homes. Based on design plans, developers are expected to build less than that maximum.
Murio Farms will sit along the New York Canal against the area of impact’s southern border.
According to documents, the planned community is considering other projects on the land, including a new West Ada elementary school, a community park and commercial areas.
Location: Both sides of West Lake Hazel Road between Cole and Orchard streets.
Size: 600 acres
Potential new homes: 2,000
Formerly known as Syringa Valley, this planned community developed by CBH Homes has been in the works since 2016. It is expected to have more than 2,000 homes, with the first phase of 123 available this fall. The homes will include single-family, attached townhouses and alley access patio homes.
Adjacent to Murio Farms, it was annexed into the city in 2007.
The community’s first event was held this spring. The Locale Community Spring Market featured 25 local vendors, live music and food trucks. Its success led to a second Summer Market.
Sally Krutzig covers Treasure Valley growth and development. Have a story suggestion or a question? Email Krutzig at firstname.lastname@example.org.