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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of April 2 - 8, 2003

Features

Blaine Countyís boomtown

Hailey is at apex of surge
in commercial development


By GREGORY FOLEY
Express Staff Writer

On its way to nearly doubling in population from 1990 to 2000, the city of Hailey welcomed a series of new residential subdivisions into its dominion. The average annual growth rate for the city during the 10-year period was a staggering 7.34 percent. The resident population soared from a veritable small-town figure of 3,575 in 1990 to a considerable 6,200 in 2000.

Although significant growth was measured in Hailey in the 1980s, the development of the once quaint seat of Blaine County in the 1990s was unparalleled.

Today, despite the nationĎs ongoing recession and a relatively flat winter tourist season in the Wood River Valley, Hailey is seemingly at the apex of a new surge in development, this time with a focus on commercial ventures aimed at serving the growing populace.

"Itís always been busy. But in the last few months things have been different," said Hailey Planning Director Kathy Grotto. "Itís definitely picking up."

Dave Ferguson, the cityís building official and fire inspector, said Friday that his office is handling more development applications than at any other time. "Itís the busiest Iíve seen, and I donít see it slowing down," he said. "The wordís out. Land is cheaper here, especially if youíre doing an industrial project Ö Everythingís coming south."

Indeed, commercial land is significantly more affordable in Hailey than in Ketchum, its primary counterpart. Paul Kenny, broker for real estate firm Colliers International, said earlier this month that commercial property in Ketchum now averages $125 per square foot, compared to $30 per square foot in Hailey.

Commercial space available for lease currently abounds in Ketchum, while thousands of square feet of new commercial space is about to be built in Hailey.

The long list of commercial projects pending in Hailey includes:

 Bullion Square, a project to convert Paulís supermarket on Main Street into an entirely remodeled shopping center.

A group of developers represented by Ketchum real estate broker John Sofro have received city permission to redevelop the approximately 21,000-square-foot commercial structure at 117 Main St. into eight retail units.

 Copper Ranch, a project that proposes to remodel the former Ironwood Tennis Club facility and build 135 condominiums on an adjoining 10-acres along Woodside Boulevard.

The proposed project includes 29 condominium buildings ranging in size from approximately 7,200 square feet to 4,300 square feet, and three small commercial structures.

 A pending application by Sun Valley-based developer Latham Williams to construct an approximately 14,000-square-foot cinema complex on four contiguous lots south of Albertsonís supermarket.

The site covers approximately 72,000 square feet of business-zoned land at the south corner of Main Street and Empty Saddle Trail.

 A temporarily suspended initiative by the developers of Northridge subdivision to rezone an approximately 30-acre area adjacent to Wood River Middle School to accommodate a business park and other limited commercial uses.

 An approved project by Sun Valley Aviation, the airplane rental, storage and maintenance company next to Highway 75, to construct along Aviation Drive a new airplane storage hangar, maintenance hangar, terminal facility and maintenance shed. The total square footage of all of the new buildings will be more than 50,000 square feet.

 An approved plan by Ketchum businessman Clint Stennett to move the broadcasting operations for the KSVT-Channel 13 television channel to downtown Haileyís Croy Street Exchange building.

 Ongoing developments at Airport West Business Park, which has received final plat approval, and is selling lots included in the cityís Service-Commercial-Industrial zoning district. Hailey Nursery, the Main Street nursery and garden center, is planning to relocate to the approximately 60-acre subdivision, and the city is building a new city shop on the developmentís west side. Grotto said applications for projects in the site are expected to be submitted "one right after the other."

In addition, city officials have handled applications to accommodate two new restaurants on Main Street.

The city has granted restaurateurs Chris and Rebecca Kastner permission to build a new 2,500 square-foot, two-story restaurant at the northeast corner of Pine and Main streets, called CKís. On Monday, Hailey City Council members were scheduled to grant provisions to help restaurateur Pete Prekeges convert the Sun Valley Rug and Tile building at 618 S. Main Street into a new restaurant called Broadford Grill.

The city in the last year has also approved an application by the Blaine County School District to construct a 21,750-square-foot addition to the Wood River Middle School, as well as an application by Blaine County to construct an approximately 30,000-square-foot office building in the cityís downtown core.

Hailey Mayor Susan McBryant said she intends to help manage the growth Hailey is expected to see in coming years, but noted she is pleased developers have recently proposed a series of attractive developments in the city. "Iím glad itís happening," she said.

She added: "I am a supporter of growth. But I donít think you should grow for growthís sake."

 

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