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The Bluebird Village workforce-housing project planned for the site of City Hall in downtown Ketchum includes 51 rental units and a variety of amenities. Plans call for renting units to local workers who would be subject to income requirements and employment verification.

Ketchum city leaders reviewed a draft land lease for the Bluebird Village workforce-housing development on Monday and could vote on a final lease later this month.

City Council members were asked by Mayor Neil Bradshaw and City Administrator Jade Riley to think about several key aspects of the draft lease for the land to support the project, including the length of the lease.

“The importance of this lease cannot be overstated,” Bradshaw stated.

In the planned 51-unit Bluebird Village project, Seattle-based GMD Development is working in partnership with the Ketchum Community Development Corp. to develop two four-story buildings at 480 East Ave., the former site of Ketchum City Hall. The city is providing the land and has reserved $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.

Tax-credit financing being applied to the project mandates land-use restrictions that would require the development be maintained as affordable housing for 45 years. In the complex financing model, the Ketchum CDC—a nonprofit organization that works on revitalization projects in the city—would assume ownership after 15 years.

With oversight, the project would implement a “local preference policy” that targets local workers at a variety of income levels in the workforce, based on the area median income at the time.

The city is contemplating a lease to the CDC for the 0.6-acre site that charges $10 annually and lasts for 65 years. Riley said the CDC and developer would prefer a longer lease. The city must also determine whether it will mandate that the project stay as deed-restricted affordable housing for the entire length of the lease, how ground-floor commercial units will be managed and how much insurance is adequate.

The city is still working on its preference policy for local workers, Riley said.

Riley told council members that he plans to bring a new draft of the lease to them on Nov. 18, when they next meet. Bradshaw could ask the council to vote on the lease at that meeting.

The city has approved the development plans for the Bluebird project, including final approval on Monday of a zoning code amendment that changes the rules for fourth-floor setbacks of community-housing projects. The Bluebird Village project design is based on approval of the code change.

The city is working with the developers on a building permit for the project and is researching plans to demolish the old city hall, Riley stated in a report.

Greg Dunfield, the head of GMD Development, has said he intends to start construction next March. 

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