Don’t derail Town
"opposition only" hearing on the Town Center development brought
out alternative proposals for affordable housing in Ketchum Monday night.
refreshing to see new concepts instead of hearing the same old bad raps on
affordable housing. Even so, the concepts should not be allowed to derail
the city’s progress on Town Center, which includes commercial space and
proposed Town Center concept—shops, offices and residence apartments¾
has much to recommend it.
would be built on city-owned property by a private developer with the
benefit of federal tax credits for development of affordable housing. The
developer would also have the benefit of a below-market lease on the land
from the city.
property is the site of the visitors’ center and old City Hall.
meets the oft-stated demand by the city of Ketchum that it "not get
into the housing business."
downtown on Main Street, the development also avoided the kind of heated
neighborhood opposition that threatened the Fields at Warm Springs, the
first private development in the city that included price-controlled units
in exchange for a density bonus.
alternatives presented Monday night would require the city to change its
policy. They would get the city into both development and housing
management. They could face potentially insurmountable hurdles.
alternatives, both apartment and parking complexes on city-owned land on
Leadville Avenue, would require financing with a revenue bond whose
proceeds would be paid back with rental income.
bond would require approval of 66.7 percent of voters, a high hurdle,
indeed. It also may require the backing of either property taxes or local
option taxes to secure good interest rates and to make it desirable to
bond buyers. Backing it with local-option sales tax revenues would require
separate approval by voters—another hurdle.
has always had the option of using revenue bonds to develop housing, but
rejected them in favor of pursuing public/private partnerships.
If the city’s
political climate has changed enough that two-thirds of voters want to put
the city in the housing business, that would be great. The more tools the
city has to meet the need for housing, the better.
meantime, the city shouldn’t stop the Town Center project to pursue a
new one with a guaranteed host of obstacles.