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For the week of  September 19 - 25, 2001


River Glen affordable units awarded

Express Staff Writer

Mary Clare Griffin thought she might never be able to buy a home in the Wood River Valley—until last week.

Jacob Hoover helps Ketchum and Blaine County Housing Director Gates Kellett draw numbers for a lottery that determined who will have first crack at purchasing affordably priced housing units at River Glen in Ketchum. Express photo by David N. Selig

As one of three Ketchum women who won a city lottery Thursday, Griffin has the opportunity to purchase a deed restricted condominium unit along the Big Wood River on the southern edge of the city at less than market rate.

"The longer I stayed here, the less likely it seemed I could buy with the explosion of real-estate prices," said Griffin, a personal chef and author. "It’s a hell of a location, and it’s a handsome unit."

Griffin has first crack at a one-bedroom unit at the three-unit River Glen condominium complex, which was approved as part of a subdivision that will replace the old Sun Valley RV Park. The other two units have two bedrooms each.

Last winter, developer Doug McPherson posed a trade to Ketchum’s city officials: more sellable lots at River Glen in return for three affordable units. Through the city’s planned unit development ordinance, and about a dozen meetings, city officials accepted McPherson’s offer.

The condominiums at River Glen were offered to qualified applicants through the lottery process held Thursday at Ketchum City Hall. Of the 88 local residents who applied, 18 made the cut to participate in the lottery. Three will buy the units, priced at $105,000 for the one-bedroom unit and $120,000 for the two bedroom units.

Ketchum and Blaine County Housing Director Gates Kellett said it was gratifying to offer local residents opportunities to purchase homes but a little disheartening that there weren’t more deed restricted units to go around.

"I saw 18 people here who all are ready for a home, and I couldn’t give one to all of them," she said. "I am very pleased we are able to do this. I just wish we has more units."

But in time, Kellett said, more units will be built.

"The momentum just has to grow," she said.

Several deed-restricted units that will be sold or rented at varying price ranges are under construction or under political consideration in Ketchum. Four units are slated for the Copper Ridge development, which is under construction at the corner of Washington Avenue and Third Street.

Several more units will result from the massive Thunder Spring project on Saddle Road, though the price ranges for the units are still under negotiations.

Nonetheless, many feel it’s difficult to argue that the city’s gradually growing cache of affordable housing is helping put roofs over the heads of valued local employees.

The lottery’s top three winners Thursday are respected local businesswomen, including a financial officer for a local company and a combined chef and author. Owners of The Fields at Warm Springs 14 deed-restricted units on Warm Springs Road work in city government, local business, medicine and other occupations.

Through deed restrictions, appreciation of the units is restricted to 4 percent per year of ownership, ensuring that the units remain relatively affordable.

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.