Bluebird East and 5th Aerial@ WF.jpg

The lead developer of the Bluebird Village workforce-housing project in Ketchum released a set of visionary renderings for the development last weekend, including this view from the corner of East Avenue and Fifth Street.

The lead developer planning to build the Bluebird Village workforce-housing project in downtown Ketchum is refining the concept and design before submitting a formal application to the city.

Seattle-based GMD Development released a set of architectural renderings for the project on its website Saturday, in advance of an online Zoom meeting Tuesday evening to gather additional public comment.

GMD Development is partnering with the Ketchum Community Development Corp. to build the 56-unit project at 480 East Ave., the current site of Ketchum City Hall and the headquarters of the Ketchum Fire Department. The city has purchased an office building at Fifth Street and Second Avenue to serve as a new administrative and police headquarters and is building a new fire station at a city-owned property on Saddle Road. The city plans to move all those operations later this year, opening up the East Avenue property.

Bluebird’s two primarily four-story buildings—with a maximum height of 46 feet—would offer a combination of 35 one-bedroom units, 16 two-bedroom units and five three-bedroom units, ranging in size from 640 to 1,130 square feet. The fourth level of the west-side building would have common areas that include a community room, an exercise room and a rooftop deck, said lead developer Greg Dunfield, of GMD Development. A 2,000-square-foot commercial space, a management office, parking and storage would be included on the ground level.

The Bluebird project has several moving parts. If it is approved, the existing city structures would be demolished. The city has approved an “option to lease” the East Avenue property to the Ketchum CDC, a nonprofit organization that works on revitalization projects in the city. If the option is exercised this year, the CDC and GMD Development would own the buildings as partners, Dunfield said. GMD Development has been awarded federal tax credits that will assist in offsetting the overall costs of the project. The credits—which are sold to investors—will likely provide $12.5 million to $13.5 million for the project, Dunfield said. After 16 years, GMD would exit the project and full ownership of the buildings would go the CDC.

The city has re-served $1.4 million from its Housing In-Lieu Fund—funded with money collected from developers who pay the city in lieu of building required workforce housing—to potentially assist in some expenditures. The Ketchum Urban Renewal Agency has reserved some $565,000 to potentially fund infrastructure work on the project. (Neither the city nor the URA has disbursed any funds to the project.) The project will also use a solar-energy tax credit, Dunfield said.

With oversight from the city, the project would implement a “local preference policy” that targets workers at a variety of income levels, including people earning 50%, 60% and 70% of the area median income. Monthly rents would range from $694 to $1,355, the city estimates. However, some one-bedroom units could be rented for less, a Bluebird summary document states. Units would be rented on one-year leases.

The project would be governed by a 40-year agreement that requires the owners to manage the building as workforce housing.

The development team by Tuesday had already held two Zoom meetings to gather public comment on the project. The developers are using the feedback to refine the formal applications, which they plan to submit to the city later this month.

“It’s been productive,” Dunfield said. “There’s been a variety of feedback.”

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