Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Friedman site could become vibrant campus

Consultantsí vision includes hotel and satellite BSU campus

Express Staff Writer

The 208 acres that include Friedman Memorial Airport could one day be redeveloped into a vibrant, multi-use area housing a 200-room hotel and conference center, a retail-residential "village," a sprinkling of "research and development" centers and perhaps even a satellite campus of Boise State University.

That was the warmly received message delivered Monday night by planning consultants working for the city of Hailey, Blaine County and the Friedman Memorial Airport Authority. Officials with those three entities must now decide whether to amend the development plan or endorse it as is and move forward with marketing the site.

Roland Aberg of Hart Howerton, a design, architecture and planning firm, stressed throughout the workshop that the common theme running through the planning of Friedman's redevelopment is sustainable and progressive development, featuring a campus feel full of open spaces and connections to the existing community in Hailey. The site plan he presented on Monday included significant community input gathered during workshops held earlier this year.

Local input from those workshops suggested that development should include facilities for education, research and appropriately priced housing.

The current airport site is a narrow, north-south ribbon of land about 1.7 miles long and less than a mile wide. The north end abuts south Main Street in Hailey, while the south end lies next to open land that is part of a private ranch.

The site development plan presented by Aberg reflects the different character of the north and south ends of the site. The northernmost area of Friedman would become a retail "village" adjacent to a residential area, reflecting its proximity to downtown Hailey and providing housing at prices not currently available in Hailey's real estate inventory, about $140,000 to $280,000.

Moving south, the plan calls for a hotel and conference center with about 150 rooms.

The center of the site offers a dynamic idea, where a collection of buildings for private research and development straddles a university campus.

Early test marketing, done by Rick Hill of Village Solutions Co., revealed considerable interest in a potential move to Hailey by R&D entities like the Idaho National Laboratory and others that operate in close proximity to universities.

Farther south in the site plan is a parcel that could be used as a corporate campus or for an assisted-living facility.

The southernmost parcel in the site plan envisions large-format retail stores such as Home Depot and Target. The plan calls for the possibility of up to four such stores, totaling 160,000 square feet.

The city of Hailey could have the chance to redevelop the airport site because the Federal Aviation Administration has determined that the airport cannot meet design standards, nor can it meet future passenger demand, at its current location. Therefore, a replacement airport is being pursued at a site in southern Blaine County.

The full Friedman redevelopment plan can be found online at

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