Friday, January 25, 2013

ARCH project set for federal funding request

Ketchum council concerned housing project will compete with another in pipeline

Express Staff Writer

    The Ketchum City Council voted Tuesday to support a proposed ARCH Community Housing Trust affordable housing project in three ways for an upcoming round of applications for federal funding. However, some council members expressed concern that doing so might doom another proposed affordable housing project for the city.
    The council voted to allow ARCH to use $100,000 from the city’s Open Door Program to help finance the project, which would be a remodel and expansion of the Evergreen Apartments on Bird Drive. The council had set that money aside in 2009 for ARCH to spend on the development of affordable housing in Ketchum. Community and Economic Development Director Lisa Horowitz said ARCH requested the funds Tuesday as a courtesy, since the money had already been earmarked for it.
    The council also voted to waive about $100,000 in city fees for the project, including city infrastructure impact fees and building inspection fees. ARCH Executive Director Michelle Griffith said the project would score more points with the Idaho Housing and Finance Association if the city demonstrates financial support for the project. The association determines which affordable housing projects in Idaho will receive federal funding.
    Lastly, the council voted to send a letter to the association in support of the project before the organization’s next round of financing. The association accepts financing applications twice a year—in September and in February. Griffith said applicants generally hear back within three months.

“We should have two batters. Let them fight it out on equal terms. Let’s see if we can hit a home run with one of them.”
Baird Gourlay
city councilman

    The city has two affordable housing projects in the pipeline. The Ketchum Community Development Corp. applied in September to secure Idaho Housing and Finance Association financing for a proposed project on the corner of First Street and Washington Avenue, generally referred to as Washington Place. However, the association denied the funds, citing as reasons high development costs and not enough need for affordable housing in the city.
    “High construction costs is the nature of this community, but that’s why we need affordable housing,” Councilman Michael David said Tuesday.
    The Community Development Corp. is appealing the association’s decision and expects to hear back from the organization by the end of the month. Council president Baird Gourlay said at the meeting that there is certainly a need for more affordable housing in Ketchum.
    All four council members and Mayor Randy Hall expressed gratitude that the city currently has two projects in the pipeline. However, they said they were uncertain of the best way to ensure that both projects receive Idaho Housing and Finance Association funds.
    “If the appeal is denied, we may have to choose one project over the other for the next cycle,” David said.
    Griffith urged the council to support both projects.
    “We should have two batters,” Gourlay said. “Let them fight it out on equal terms. Let’s see if we can hit a home run with one of them.”

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