Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Arts center gets waiver worth $800,000

City waives community-housing requirement for headquarters

This rendering of the planned new Sun Valley Center for the Arts headquarters was created in 2007.Courtesy graphic

The Ketchum City Council gave the nonprofit Sun Valley Center for the Arts an $800,000 gift Monday night, when it unanimously agreed to waive a community-housing requirement for a new 22,500-square-foot headquarters to be built across the street from the post office.

The city originally required 2,500 square feet of community housing under a planned-unit-development agreement, which would cost $800,000, plus or minus $200,000. The group came to the council on Monday requesting that it be exempt from every square foot.

And the Ketchum-based center was granted its wish.

But to redeem the entire rebate to the project's $17 million total cost, the nonprofit group must apply for a building permit by Jan. 31, 2011. If it doesn't, the center must apply for a building permit by Jan. 31, 2012, for a 50 percent waiver of the housing requirement. After that, it'll be back to the original housing requirement.

Jill Eshman, attorney for the center, repeatedly pleaded at Monday's meeting for a bigger window than the first cut-off date of Jan. 31, 2011, even though the City Council already extended it from Jan. 1 during the meeting.

"A little more breathing room would be beneficial," she said.

Donations for the project to date total about $6 million of the $17 million needed. But, Eshman said, the group needs only $6 million more to break ground. Fundraising started in 2005.

Councilman Charles Conn responded to the demand for more time.

"This is a significant ask considering you have 18 months from the time of being granted a building permit to starting construction," he said. "My inclination is not to go beyond that."

Adding in the building-permit lag time, the center has until July 31, 2012, to start construction and still be able to receive the entire waiver from any kind of community housing.

Conn said the intent of the waiver is to set a deadline and give the center an incentive to get the project rolling.

"Go build it," he said after the council unanimously voted in favor of the amendments.

"We'd like to," responded several board members of Sun Valley Center for the Arts.

Trevon Milliard:

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