Referring to a proposed project in Quigley Canyon as “a new community development,” real estate developer Dave Hennessy presented plans during a public meeting in Hailey on Tuesday that were a marked departure from previous development attempts in the canyon.
The Hennessy Co. held the first of two community workshops at the Distance Learning Lab at Wood River High School, giving residents the opportunity to participate in design input for what they would like to see for development of 1,100 acres in the canyon.
Residents have enjoyed the sage-covered hills on the private land east of Hailey for years, with their hiking trails, wildlife and views of farm fields.
“Now, what we want to do is a long-term regenerative model that gives back to the community, builds on it, where everybody is improved,” said Hennessy, representing Quigley Green Owners LLC, the company that would develop Quigley Canyon, in an interview. “The old way was extractive—make as much money as you can, and get out.”
In 2009 and 2011, Hennessy, on behalf of Westfield, Conn.,-based Greenfield Partners, requested annexation of the land by the city of Hailey. The firm sought to develop the area with high-density homes including estate lots, an 18-hole golf course, a Nordic skiing center and a restaurant. Both requests were denied by the city.
In 2012, one day after the city denied Hennessy’s second request for annexation, the developer posted “no trespassing” signs to keep hikers off trails long used to access hills on the north side of the canyon. The trails were subsequently reopened and are used by many people each day.
Hennessy now says he’s dissolving his involvement with Greenfield Partners and will buy the land from the group. His new partners in the development of Quigley Canyon are Harry Weekes, founder of and a teacher at The Sage School in Hailey, and Duncan Morton of Summit Creek Capital of Ketchum, a financial services company.
He said in an interview that the partnership will not again attempt annexation of the land, but will seek to develop it in Blaine County.
Hennessy and his new partners hired a team, which was present at the workshop, consisting of Portland-based Sera Architects; Santa Fe, N.M.-based Regenesis Group, specializing in “regenerative development”; Biohabitats, headquartered in Maryland, focusing on ecological restoration; and development company WHPacific of Boise.
At the workshop, representatives from those firms showed photos of community-sensitive developments in other states, while the 50 or so participants sat around large round tables each with a map of Quigley Canyon, adding elements with stickers identified as a farm or a recycling center, for example, that each wanted to see in the proposed community.
“I think it’s clear that a lot of us are struggling with this transition,” said Hailey resident Mike McAvoy. “I think we all need to catch up to the shift in what Quigley was presented as in its first iteration, as to what it could be now. I think there are a lot of emotions in those pieces for those of us who hike and play in the area, but it all has to connect to the Hailey community.”
Hailey resident John Wiese said he is not against development of Quigley Canyon, “but you guys are throwing up smokescreens by presenting very appealing community projects that don’t apply to us. That’s not where the money is. You must have some kind of minimum development of homes in mind, for no other reason than to justify the economics of all this.”
Hennessy’s group stressed education, wellness and agriculture, but Hennessy did state that development of 90 to 95 new homes would support the project.
The presenters said feedback will be gathered from the participants and shared as the project moves ahead.
“I’m trying to come into this without any preconceived notions, like it’s a different project,” said Bellevue resident Sara Berman. “It’s only fair to come in with an open mind and not carry that bad history of the past with the trail closures and the no trespassing signs into this. It’s no use framing the project in a negative way from the get-go.”