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Potential tenants tour Turf Club as Ada County looks at new uses

One interested party said she could see an event center and co-working space in the two-story building at Expo Idaho.

ADA COUNTY, Idaho — Ada County Commissioners are looking for the best way to give new life to the old Turf Club at Expo Idaho.

The facility, built in 1985 at what was then Les Bois Park, once welcomed horseracing fans, bettors and entertainment seekers throughout the state of Idaho. Live horse racing at Les Bois and simulcasting in the Turf Club ended in the fall of 2015, after the Idaho Legislature repealed a law that authorized historical horse racing machines.

"It's a little disheartening. I have been a horse racing fan, I grew up in the horse racing business along with the fair business, so it was a sad day,” said Bob Batista, director of Expo Idaho and Western Idaho Fair.

However, Batista added, it's time to move on. The county has announced that it's taking proposals from those interested in leasing the Turf Club. On Wednesday, Batista gave several potential lessees a tour of the facility. The two-story building is home to 12,495 square feet of empty, usable space.

“We just don't like to let buildings sit vacant. They deteriorate seven times faster than if they are being used,” Batista said.

Patty Jackson with Faciliteq AI toured the building. She said the open windows upstairs were a great selling point, and she's excited about what might be possible within the walls of the Turf Club.

"I loved going upstairs, and the view is amazing,” Jackson said. "We want to come up with a solution that is multipurposed and potentially a co-working space, possibly partnering with someone in town just to make that happen, and a place where the community can come for events and training and activities as well."

Batista called the county's approach to the future of the Turf Club "innovative."

"We have really tried to include a lot of different opportunities and a lot of different business styles and types, especially catering to small business," he said. "The location and the availably of parking and you know you just got to have an imagination to think of what you could do with this building."

Businesses or other organizations interested in leasing the Turf Club may submit applications online until 4 p.m. on May 2.

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