Habitat wins bid for city lot

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COEUR d’ALENE — A triangular piece of land a block west of U.S. 95 in Coeur d’Alene that the city had saved for use as a potential well site could be the future home of an affordable housing project.

With a sole bid of $40,000, Habitat for Humanity secured the .825-acres sliver of land on the 600 block of W. Neider Avenue which could be set aside for building between two and four homes, said James Casper, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of North Idaho.

“We figured at $40,000, if we could get it, it would be a good opportunity,” Casper said.

The property is big enough to build between two and four homes.

“Although, four is pushing it,” he said.

After learning that the land owned by the water department at 601 W. Neider Ave. wasn’t suitable for a well because of the soil type below the surface, the City Council approved a plan to put the land up for auction.

Council member Dan English wondered at a March council meeting if the city couldn’t hold on to the property, which is wedged beside a mobile home park and three residential properties, as a future site for low-income housing.

“If there’s a way to do something for low-income housing this at least would give us an option,” English said.

State law, however, says the surplus property had to be made available to anyone, and when the city placed a minimum bid of $40,000 on it, Habitat decided to be the low bidder.

“We put in for that hoping no one else would bid,” Casper said.

His agency was the only bidder.

“It looks like it worked out like it should,” council member Kiki Miller said at a Monday meeting to preliminarily approve the land sale.

The City Council must still approve the transaction at its next meeting before the property is turned over to Habitat. Once that happens, Casper said his agency can start making plans to put the land to work.

“Our goal is to build something simple and affordable,” he said.

The parcel wedged between Neider and Fruitland Lane was purchased in the late 1990s as a possible well site, but a test well showed there was too much fine sand in the substrata to be suitable for a high-production well.

“We hung on to the property for some time hoping that we could develop that well,” Kyle Marine, the city’s assistant water superintendent said.

But the cost to make it work was unfeasible.

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