Friday, November 15, 2013

Developer interested in Blaine Manor

Hailey planner says URA could play facilitating role


By TONY EVANS
Express Staff Writer

    A major development company has taken an interest in building a conference center, hotel and restaurant complex at the Blaine Manor skilled-nursing facility site in Hailey.
    The Hailey Urban Renewal Agency could make the development more feasible.
    The 2.5-acre Blaine Manor site, owned by Blaine County, will likely be sold at auction after the facility’s patients are relocated to the Bell Mountain Village and Care Center in Bellevue, now under construction.
    Hailey Community Development Director Micah Austin told the Blaine County commissioners Tuesday that a private developer of the property could take advantage of the city’s Urban Renewal Agency status to facilitate development of the Blaine Manor complex on Main Street beside the Hailey Rodeo Grounds. He said the URA has more legal flexibility than the county to lease or sell the property for a profit.
    Austin said he has been in discussions with White-Leasure Development Co. in Boise about the prospect of redeveloping the site. White-Leasure has developed numerous retail, hotel and industrial projects in seven Western states, including the Grove Hotel and the 5,000-seat CenturyLink Arena in Boise, where the Idaho Steelheads hockey team plays.
    Austin said the company cited the Blaine Manor property’s proximity to the new Hailey Ice arena, rodeo grounds and airport as being desirable.
    “They’ve worked with URAs before,” Austin said in an interview. “This is within the Gateway District, so the Hailey URA could [repay the developer to] provide water and sewer upgrades and sidewalk improvements, all of which are appealing to this particular developer.”
    Austin said the land would have to be privately owned for the URA to be involved. He said the URA could repay a developer for public infrastructure improvements over the 20-year term of the URA’s district, using tax-increment financing.
    “It would be a risk for the developer, but also provide an incentive for him or her to bring in as much business as quickly as possible in order to increase the tax-increment amount, and be paid back for the public infrastructure improvements,” Austin said.
    Austin said he would be willing to produce a request for proposals to the development community, citing the URA’s willingness to assist a developer with infrastructure costs.
    “What we would be looking for is a developer that would be interested in signing a development agreement,” he said.
    At the meeting Tuesday, County Commissioner Larry Schoen thanked Austin for being “forward-thinking,” and acknowledged the county’s limited role in any development at the site.
    “I see the county’s involvement as a willing seller, and not much more,” Schoen said.
Tony Evans: tevans@mtexpress.com




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