Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Residents question need for Quigley development

1,000 lots already available in Hailey

Express Staff Writer

Some Hailey residents are questioning the need for a 378-home development in Quigley Canyon at a time when nearly 1,000 buildable lots are already available in the town. Others point to the fact that hundreds of homes in Hailey are currently awaiting buyers in the wake of the real estate and housing downturn.

Quigley Canyon developer David Hennessy is moving forward with plans to build a 378-home, 1,100-acre development in the canyon, complete with an 18-hole golf course, miles of skiing and hiking trails and a year-round clubhouse.

During a Hailey City Council meeting on Thursday, Jan. 15, Hailey resident Andy Harding was one of several people questioning the appropriateness of such a development when there is already a glut of available home sites in the city.

"When they move the airport there will be even more," he said.

City Administrator Heather Dawson told the Idaho Mountain Express on Tuesday that Hailey has 994 vacant residential lots available in the city. That number includes in-fill home sites within the downtown area as well as unbuilt lots in the Sweetwater Townhomes development in Woodside, at Old Cutters subdivision in east Hailey and on the Dumke property bordering Quigley Road.

Sweetwater closed its operations last fall after building only 49 units in the planned 421-unit, 20-acre development. The city hoped to gain 40 affordable housing units when Sweetwater was finished. None of the units has been sold, despite publicity activities featuring local artists and a firefighter fundraiser.

Old Cutters developer John Campbell is currently in default on an annexation fee payment of $875,800 that he owes the city for his 116-home subdivision. He was able to sell only 13 lots before entering negotiations with the City Council to redraw his annexation agreement, which calls for $3.87 million in annexation fees. Negotiations are underway between City Attorney Ned Williamson and Campbell's attorney, Jim Speck.

Dawson said an additional 64 commercial lots are for sale in the Airport Way subdivision of Hailey. She added that when the airport is relocated in the next few years, 220 additional acres will become available for redevelopment within the city.

Yet Quigley Canyon developer David Hennessy told the Mountain Express last week that what makes his plan important for Hailey, even during the current real estate downturn, is the amenities he is offering the city in exchange for annexation.

"Right now there is an economic downturn," he said, "but our long-term prospects are good."

Real estate agent Sonja Huntsman, with Windemere Real Estate in Ketchum and Hailey, said 155 homes and condos are for sale in Hailey, and an additional 162 vacant lots for sale.

However, she said, "I think the Quigley development will be great for us overall."

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