Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Bellevue properties to go on the block

City plans to sell assets to make sure ends meet

Express Staff Writer

To better face looming financial uncertainties, the city of Bellevue is preparing to sell or trade city-owned properties.

The City Council voted on Thursday, April 14, to declare some of the city's real estate, valued at $5.2 million, as surplus property to put them on the market or trade them for other property.

"Sell, sell, sell," Councilwoman Barb Patterson said.

The unanimous decision was made in light of difficulties that the city of Hailey has had getting annexation fees in agreed-upon amounts from developers.

"Look what happened to Old Cutters and at Sweetwater," Planning Director Craig Eckles said.

The Hailey City Council recently agreed to take ownership of eight residential lots in the languishing Old Cutters subdivision in lieu of $2.5 million in annexation fees owed by developer John Campbell. Hailey also decided to forego about $2.3 million in fees that would have been paid to the city upon final build-out of the Sweetwater housing development to settle a lawsuit with developer J. Kevin Adams.

The annexation fees would have been used to help fund capital projects or cover operating expenses for Hailey city departments.

In 2008, Bellevue annexed about 100 acres of undeveloped land in Slaughterhouse Canyon, northeast of downtown. About 60 of those acres, plus additional property within the city limits, are planned for a residential development called the Strahorn Canyon Ranch.

Strahorn developer Jeff Pfaeffle agreed to give the city $5.1 million in cash, property and city infrastructure improvements, mainly in exchange for hooking up to city services and being able to develop under city zoning codes, which allow increased housing density.


Under the proposed agreement, Pfaeffle agreed to provide $500,000 in early 2014 or when he begins Phase 1 of the development. He also agreed to then pay the city $250,000 every five years or at whatever time he begins each of the following three phases.

The city plans to put about $400,000 of Pfaeffle's first payment in 2014 into the sewer fund. The money will be used to make bond payments for the city's new $7 million wastewater treatment plan, which went into operation last summer.

"We have heard nothing from the developer, but need to take heed about what is happening in Blaine County in developments in other cities," Eckles said. "We need to look at scenarios that may have delays."

Pfaeffle could not be reached for comment.

The $5.2 million estimated worth of the city's residential and commercial properties was calculated by real estate agent Matt Bogue in February. The exact number of lots and estimated value of the ones that will be declared surplus have yet to be determined.

The city owns about $1.78 million worth of light-industrial property, $920,000 in limited-business-zoned property, $730,000 in business-zoned property and about $1.8 million in property conveyed to the city in Slaughterhouse Canyon by Pfaefle as part of his annexation agreement.

"Of course, you're already aware [that] not much is moving in either category (business or residential)," Bogue wrote in a memo to the council on March 20.

He said the city's light-industrial properties would likely be the first properties to sell.

Bogue wrote that he had seen a recent upsurge in sales of light-industrial-zoned properties in Ketchum, a trend that is likely to trickle down to Bellevue but not until after a glut of light-industrial properties in Hailey begin to sell.

"When light-industrial activity will heat up in Hailey and Bellevue is somewhat of a mystery," Bogue said.

In other Bellevue news:

- The City Council will hold a town meeting on Monday, May 9, to present options related to possible consolidation of fire departments in the south valley. Public comment will be welcome.

- The city received a $32,000 federal grant to build a crosswalk with flashing lights across state Highway 75 at Broadford Road.

Tony Evans:

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