Years in the works, CWI Boise campus plan hits a milestone

An artist’s rendering of the College of Western Idaho’s Boise campus building, proposed for riverfront property on the western fringe of downtown.

For more than a decade, the College of Western Idaho’s Boise students have taken classes in a hodgepodge of leased buildings.

That could begin changing within the next three years, as three Idaho companies develop a campus that they say will be “focused on the student daily experience.”

CWI, the state’s largest community college, recently chose a development team for its Boise campus, near the Boise River greenbelt on the western fringe of Downtown. Ball Ventures Ahlquist, ESI construction and Hummel Architects will head up the project; the consortium was one of five bidders for the project.

The Boise campus project has been in the works for years. CWI acquired 10 acres near the Greenbelt in 2015. In 2021, CWI launched a visioning project for its Boise and Nampa campuses.

And it will still take years to build out the Boise campus.

According to a project proposal obtained by Idaho Education News, the Ball Ventures Ahlquist team incorporates several elements. The plans include residential projects (the team will partner with developers to build the housing); a performing arts venue; and an elevated plaza that sits above a parking complex “that is not visible from the surrounding neighborhoods and greenbelt.”

The first phase could come in the next three years, however — and it would sit on a prominent corner of the site.

A 60,000-square-foot classroom building would replace the 89,000 square feet of leased space in Southwest Boise. The new classroom building would go on the corner of Main Street and 30th Street to enhance the CWI project’s visibility, developers said in their proposal.

The building could open in the fall of 2026.

This first phase of the project could cost about $24 million, with money coming from a private-public partnership, financing and donations, CWI spokesperson Ashley Smith said.

According to the plans, the classroom building also represents a first phase in turning the now-vacant 10 acres into a student hub. The proximity to the Greenbelt and bus lines would provide options for commuting to and from class. Restaurants and coffee shops, the elevated plaza, an amphitheater and nearby parks would give students places to grab a meal or unwind before or after classes.

“When starting the design, our team focused on the student daily experience,” developers said in their proposal.

More reading: More about the performing arts venue proposal, from

Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

Get EdNews in your inbox

Weekly round up every Friday