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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of March 27 - April 2, 2002

  News

Town Center draws another full house

Council makes affirmative vote


By GREG STAHL
Express Staff Writer

Following 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.

The councilís 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.

"I feel like Iíve listened very carefully," said Councilman Randy Hall. "My instincts tell me to move forward."

Public testimony at the meeting was evenly split between town center supporters and opponents. And while comments were occasionally heated, they were also orderly.

"What 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."

About half of the meeting, in fact, was used as a means for presenting details on the town center proposal, and others.

To recap: 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.

Twenty affordable housing units are proposed.

The 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.

The 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.

"Many 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.

"The process thus far reflects a focus on a single project, instead of proposing and implementing an affordable housing development plan for Ketchum.

"There is a serious question whether the financing and control of the land should be relinquished to a developer."

Ketchum 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.

She 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.

The city 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 important hurdles.

"Thatís the big question mark," she said.

 


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.