Idaho’s state Department of Lands auctioned off 30 state-owned cabin sites at Payette Lake this afternoon for a total of $12.6 million. Twenty-five of the sites were already leased to people who owned cabins on them; all but two of those sold for the appraised value to the current lessee. The other two saw competitive bidding, and one went for $27,500 above its $74,000 appraised value; the other went for $14,000 above its $77,000 appraised value, and both went to competitors who were bidding against the current lessees. The successful bidders will have to pay the cabin owners appraised value for their improvements.
Five of the sites auctioned today weren’t leased to anyone. Three of those saw competitive bidding. One went for $1.5 million – $500,000 more than the appraised value. Another went for $1.57 million, $383,000 above the appraised value. And the third went for $1.29 million, $37,000 above the appraised value. All three of those were lakefront properties, each just under half an acre.
Just seven of the leased lots that were auctioned off were lakefront; the rest were “upland,” or back away from the lakefront. The two leased lots that drew competitive bidding were both upland lots.
The auction was part of the state’s ongoing effort to phase itself out of the business of renting state-owned cabin sites on which private owners build and own cabins; that’s led to numerous lawsuits and fights over the years about what constitutes fair rent for the underlying ground. Including today’s auction, the state has auctioned off 258 cabin sites, 141 of those at Priest Lake and 117 at Payette Lake. Most of those had been leased and had cabins, but eight of the lots sold at Priest and 16 at Payette weren’t leased.
Proceeds from the auctions go into the state endowment’s “land bank” fund to be used to purchase other land in Idaho, with an eye to better returns for the endowment; if not spent within a certain amount of time, they go into the endowment’s permanent fund. Earnings from the endowment benefit the state’s public schools, higher education, prisons, the state Capitol, and other state institutions.