It does not take long for a visitor new to our town to discover that we here in Boise are blessed with an abundance of amenities, both natural and planed. From the Boise Front Range and foothills that grace our eastern flank, to the Boise River that flows through and connects our communities, one would be hard pressed to imagine a better place to live, work, and raise a family.
It is also no secret that these amenities are contributing factors to our steady growth rate over the years, and why Boise regularly appears in top 10 lists of best places to live. Fortunately for all of us, Boise has also been blessed over the years with leaders and citizens who have understood the importance of these natural gifts, and who have worked hard to preserve and develop them.
Perhaps one of the most important of these is our network of Public Parks. From Barber Park at the East end of the city to the Willow Lane Sports Complex on the West end, there are currently 5 major parks forming a “Ribbon of Jewels” along the Boise River.
We are currently in the process of adding two new parks for residents and visitors to enjoy, Esther Simplot Park and, the Boise River Park, or as it is better known by locals, The White Water Park.
Unique among their sister parks, both Esther Simplot and the Boise River Parks represent a new kind of experience and are reflective of the changing nature of urban recreation. Visitors of these new facilities will be able to Swim, Surf, Kayak, Stand-up Paddle and just generally cool off during our warm summer months, taking advantage of both the river and a network of existing and new lagoons.
As a Realtor, I am always interested in the changing nature of our local Real Estate market. My experiences with buyers and sellers over the years has made me very aware of just how much parks and other natural amenities can shape buyers choices and, the effect open spaces and recreational opportunities have on property values.
Not surprisingly, studies have shown that our parks do have a positive financial effect. In a study presented to the Boise City Council this spring, Boise State Professors, Jaap Vos and Thomas Wuerzer, conservatively estimate that our park system contributes as much as 4.7 million in taxable dollars to the city of Boise, and another $2.45 million to Ada County. (Idaho Statesman article by Sven Berg April 2015).
More to my point, Vos and Wuerzer also looked at the relationship between parks and individual property values. As you might expect, the effects are significant. While it is estimated that smaller, neighborhood parks increase the average value of property within 500 ft by as much as 5%, Vos and Weurner’s study indicates that the effect on private property surrounding larger Regional Parks is much wider than previously thought.
Let’s take a look at a specific example, Boise’s newest neighborhood on the rise, The West End.
Despite it’s proximity to the Boise River the area sandwiched between State Street, 27th Street and the Boise River, has suffered a somewhat undesirable and undeserved reputation. Long known as a neighborhood of lower income and multi-family housing, property values have remained historically low in comparison to her adjacent, high-end sister, The North End.
However, to quote another, more famous Bob, “The Times They are a Changing”.
By 2008 it was widely known that the city’s 30th Street Extension plan, which included among other things, 2 new parks, a new Boulevard to move traffic from State St. to Fairview and the Connecter more effectively, and a traffic quieting project for 27th street, would have a major impact on the West End. Even before the Boise River Park opened in 2012 and White Water Boulevard was opened to traffic in 2013, buyers and investors were already eyeing the West End new interest, and property values were on the upswing.
Between June 2012 and June 2013 the median sales price for a single family home in the West end was $145,000. Between June 2013 and June 2014 that figure had increased to $176,000, and a look at sales data from June 2014 to June 2015 shows the median sales price had climbed to nearly $200,000. That is an increase of $55,000 dollars over 3 years!
Granted, this dramatic increase in value is a combination of both the new Parks and a neighborhood poised for a renaissance. But there is little doubt that without these new amenities the West End would still be an under appreciated neighborhood.
“City plans, developed in part with community and private sector input, call for an ambitious mix of housing, amenities, technology jobs and creative/athletic people flooding the west side over the next five, 10 and 20 years. Mayor David Bieter calls it ‘a new urban form’ indigenous to Boise, that we don’t even have the language to describe yet…”—BSU SSPA Research, “Rethinking the Void,” Jan. 2014.
So, if you are thinking about a new home in a rising neighborhood or, are considering where to invest your Real Estate dollars, Boise’s West End may be worth a look. And you can be certain that as our city grows, new Real Estate opportunities will present themselves to those who keep an eye on the preservation and development of Boise’s most precious gifts. .
Enjoy your summer and maybe I’ll see you somewhere along our Ribbon of Jewels! Bob Poole208email@example.com