Wednesday, September 8, 2004

Construction continues to surge in Hailey

Commercial remodels outpace last year?s numbers

Express Staff Writer

A new intersection at Main Street and McKercher Avenue will provide access to a new hotel and other developments on the north end of Hailey. Photo by David N. Seelig

Commercial remodel permits are tipping the scale this year in Hailey as total fees paid to the city to date remain basically the same as in 2003 for the same time period.

However, in the last three years the number of large construction projects has made a substantial jump in the south valley population center.

A year after a certification of occupancy was issued for the new Wood River High School, nearly a dozen substantial projects are either under construction or about to break ground.

“There is also a slew of little ones out there,” said Hailey Building Official Dave Ferguson, citing a new High Country Heating building in Airport West as an example.

The newest commercial remodel project is expected to be a renovation of the former Blaine Soil Conservation District building on River Street. The building is planned as a new location for Sakura Japanese Steak House, which was demolished to make room for another big project just underway called Big Wood Cinemas on Main Street.

Demolition permits have also increased in the past year, another development in the city.

Other new construction permitted in 2003 that is either under way or completed is a bus barn facility adjacent to the new high school, a wing on the middle school and the Blaine County building across the street from the old Blaine County Court House.

The most massive structure permitted in 2004, and perhaps in the entire valley, is a new hanger and terminal for Sun Valley Aviation currently under construction on the southwest edge of Friedman Memorial Airport.

Two other large structures permitted this year are the Big Wood Cinemas project and the athletic facility at Copper Ranch.

Ferguson said he also expects to issue a permit soon for an office building project on River Street to be called River Street Station.

Ferguson, who was hired as the city’s building official in 1996, said the current trend is overwhelming.

“I’ve just been putting out fires. I have not been a good manager for the department,” he said.

Ferguson does have help from Rick Fahey, the city building inspector who was hired in the spring of 2002.

To date, the city has issued 240 permits, and is on track to have another relatively high number of permits issued by year’s end, Ferguson said.

Ferguson said that years like 2004--with a high number of commercial remodel permits--are difficult because there is a negotiation process between business owners and their landlords. Questions arise as to who is responsible for improvements required by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Regulations require remodeled properties to include one or more wide parking spaces and wheelchair ramps leading to entryways.

Ferguson said it is a bonus if property owners include ADA restroom stalls and wider front doors.

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