Town Center draws
another full house
Express Staff Writer
several hours of heated public testimony and presentations March 20, the
Ketchum City Council resolved to move ahead on efforts to build affordable
housing and commercial space on Main Street at the town center site.
unanimous vote to hire an attorney to examine a lease of the Fourth and
Main streets site was another in a series of blessings the city must give
in order for the project to eventually be built.
feel like Iíve listened very carefully," said Councilman Randy
Hall. "My instincts tell me to move forward."
testimony at the meeting was evenly split between town center supporters
and opponents. And while comments were occasionally heated, they were also
concerns me is thereís a great deal of misinformation going
around," Tom Kennedy said. "If truly the opposition is for
affordable housing, I encourage the city to look at the details."
of the meeting, in fact, was used as a means for presenting details on the
town center proposal, and others.
town center is a proposed mixed-use building that could cost an estimated
$4.9 million. Proposed uses include a city visitors center, office space,
retail space, public meeting space, open space and affordable housing.
affordable housing units are proposed.
ownership and leasing structure for the proposal is complicated. The city
would retain ownership of the property but would lease it for a minimum of
50 years. A partnership would be created between the Blaine County Housing
Authority and Boise-based Thomas Development. Thomas would assume 80
percent ownership of the project and would work with the housing authority
to make management decisions.
It would be
funded by up to five separate sources.
four-hour affordable housing extravaganza last Wednesday kicked off with a
presentation from one of town centerís most vocal opponents. Former
Ketchum Councilman Tom Held outlined a potential affordable housing
project at the corner of Sixth Street and Leadville Avenue, where a
city-owned parking lot is now located.
It was Heldís
second presentation in as many meetings on the topic. He and Sun Valley
resident Milt Adam had drafted proposals for the Sixth and Leadville site.
citizens in our community are concerned about the process of site
selection and financing of the current proposal," Held said. "We
find it unacceptable that the council is being asked to make decisions
about financing and sites without a comprehensive affordable housing plan.
process thus far reflects a focus on a single project, instead of
proposing and implementing an affordable housing development plan for
is a serious question whether the financing and control of the land should
be relinquished to a developer."
Housing Director Gates Kellett, however, said she still believes town
center is a good site and that $2.27 million in federal tax credits are
one of the best means to achieve the housing.
recommended the city continue pursuing the town center project and begin
looking at alternatives at the Sixth and Leadville site featured in Heldís
and Adamís proposals. The city will host a meeting on Sixth and
Leadville on April 16.
should know sometime this spring if it has been approved for tax credit
funding, and Kellett said the approval is one of town centerís most
the big question mark," she said.