Boise State paid 5.9 million dollars for University Christian Church property located at 1801 University Dr., across the street from the Student Union Building. It is the largest single land area left in the expansion zone of Boise State’s master plan.
Boise State will officially take ownership later on in May. There is not a long term plan for what will be done with the space. The purchase was made now because school officials considered the property nearly invaluable to the future growth of the university.
“For us it was just an extremely important land acquisition because as the university grows out this will be right in the middle of campus,” said Jared Everett interim vice president for Campus Planning and Facilities.
The property was purchased on the idea of land banking. Put simply this means that strategic properties are purchased with the expectation there will be a return in the future.
“Right now from an economic standpoint a very good timely acquisition because property values were near all-time lows, many of the economic reports we read indicated that property values will start to increase. And the cost of debt is also historically low,” Everett said. “So those economic principles just pointed that it was a good time for a significant acquisitions.”
In Boise State’s case, the return on the property will come in the form of whatever programs and buildings are built there.
Boise State also may have been motivated by the fact that as the UCC moved closer to completion on their new space in Meridian, they would lose the chance to purchase the space if they didn’t make a move.
“We’ve had quite a bit of interest from outside parties,” said Marcy Timm, chairman of the board for the church.
As part of the purchase agreement, the UCC will continue to occupy for the space for the next year on a nominal lease agreement. The addition of a lease agreement helped the parties reach an agreement and, according to Everett, was a factor the price.
“We really wanted our property to become part of the University,” Timm said. “They were very good to work with.”
Basically, the UCC will pay one dollar a month in rent. On top of that they will pay the operation costs, maintenance, custodial and utilities.
“They will actually have a couple hundred thousand dollars of expenses to maintain and operate the building over the next year,” said Everett. “And they’ll be paying those costs.”
After the church is vacated, Boise State will use the building in its current configuration until the plans for redevelopment are completed. The current UCC building is 45,000 square feet. According to Everett, about 35,000 square feet of that is office, classroom and storage space that the can be used immediately.
However the UCC has been using the building since the 1950s and it isn’t in ideal shape for long term use.
“You or I might not feel like it was modernized… but it is a fully usable space,” Everett said. “The building is basically a well-used but in good condition older building.”
There are no plans to renovate the interior of the building as the use is considered secondary to the future redevelopment of the space.
The UCC will be moving to a new space in Meridian and changing its name to the Parkview Christian Church. The idea of the UCC being gone is disconcerting for some.
“I grew up in Boise and that church has always been there,” said Melissa Quairn, a sophomore developmental studies major. “I’ve been going to church there since I started at Boise State. I don’t know if I want to go all the way out to Meridian every week.”
Timm insists that Quairn is a rare case and few students are being displaced.
“We don’t have that many students that attend. It’s mostly seasoned members,” Timm said.
For students who have lost their church there are worse alternatives than it becoming part of Boise State.
“If it had to be sold I’m glad it was sold to BSU and not ‘Condoms ‘R’ Us or something,” Quairn said.
The idea of purchasing the UCC property is not new. According to Everett, Boise State and the UCC have had on and off negotiations for 13 years.
“More than a decade ago the university was interested in acquiring the property and started discussions with the church,” Everett said. “This time both buyer and seller were really motivated so the transaction occurred.”
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