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Wednesday, July 15, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Idaho

Priest Lake lot auction brings in $15 million for Idaho schools

Idaho’s public school endowment made $15.65 million last week when the state auctioned off 35 lakefront cabin sites on Priest Lake.

All the lots were purchased at the appraised price by the cabin owners; no one else bid, though between 200 and 250 people attended the Friday auction at the Coeur d’Alene Resort.

“From the state’s perspective, I think we were happy and satisfied to get the appraised value,” said state Lands Director Tom Schultz. “As things have played out, I think experience has shown us that there may be competition on a case-by-case basis, but it appears to be pretty limited.”

The lots that sold went for an average of about $447,000. That’s just for the ground and doesn’t include the structures that lessees have built on the properties during the decades that Idaho has leased them out as cabin sites. If someone other than the cabin owner had been the high bidder, that person would have had to buy the structure from the cabin owner, in addition to buying the lot from the state.

The highest-priced parcel in the auction, on South Hunt Creek Road in Coolin, went for $643,000; the lowest-priced, on Upper Bear Creek Bay Road, also in Coolin, went for $341,000.

Three more lots that also were up for auction drew no bids. “We did know the day of the auction that the lessees were not going to bid,” said state Lands Department spokeswoman Sharla Arledge. “So they were hoping that someone else would bid, and they would be reimbursed for their personal property.” But no one stepped forward.

Idaho has now auctioned off 161 cabin sites, about a third of its inventory, at Priest and Payette lakes; the auctions have generated more than $67 million. The move comes as the state gradually exits the cabin site-renting business, which generated dissent and lawsuits over the years with the state trying to maximize returns for schools and cabin owners rebelling against rising rents.

The Idaho Department of Lands has another auction set for 4 p.m. Sept. 26 at the Coeur d’Alene Resort for nine unleased cabin sites at Priest Lake; those are sites where the cabin owners didn’t want to or couldn’t afford to continue their leases, and have found other buyers interested in bidding on both the cabin and the ground, though anyone can bid.

“I think people are reluctant to bid against people who have a structure, a home that they have on those lots,” Schultz said. “I do think the next auction, the unleased one, I think we should get more bidding.”

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