What is now Ketchum’s largest parking lot will soon become a housing development, and the owner of the lot, the Ketchum Urban Renewal Agency, has to decide if it’s worth spending $5 million to $13 million to keep public parking at the new development.
The First and Washington parking lot was identified by the city as a parcel ripe for redevelopment in the midst of the area’s housing crisis. In an effort to increase the number of Ketchum workers who live in the city, the KURA is contracting with Boise-based developer deChase Miksis and the Wood River Community Housing Trust to construct a four-story project in the heart of downtown. The building aims to serve residents earning between 100% and 150% of the area median income, according to the city, though the percentages are subject to change. The city retained the firm Desman Parking to analyze parking options for the project. Desman staff came up with seven options, presented at a meeting Monday, which drew a variety of reactions from the KURA.
The $5 million to $13 million price tag was simply too much for Commissioners Tyler Davis-Jeffers and Jim Slanetz.
“These prices are ridiculous,” Davis-Jeffers said. “When I look at costs to install [parking] in other markets, this is astronomical. If we have to pay $150,000 per parking space, I don’t think we can do [public] parking.”
Slanetz said, “I could completely skip the parking at this point with the numbers that we’ve been given.”
Commissioner Casey Dove said she would rather see the parking situation figured out as a part of other projects around town, calling the costs here too high.
The options were presented in a matrix that showed each proposed project fit the KURA’s three goals for development. Those goals are to provide affordable workforce housing downtown, provide structured public parking that can accommodate future growth and provide an “active ground floor opportunities to maintain vibrancy of downtown”—as opposed to, for example, a first floor completely comprised of a parking garage. Two options satisfied all those goals: designing a first floor partly made up of parking spaces and partly made up of retail or commercial space; or, building underground parking below three levels of residential space.
The most comprehensive of those choices, labeled “Option 3,” envisions two below-ground parking levels with 93 total spaces at an estimated cost of $13.6 million—which comes out to $145,900 per space. The second choice that satisfied all three goals, referred to as “Option 3a,” calls for 54 total spots with only one below-ground level. It costs $9.4 million, or $174,000 per space. Commissioner Susanne Frick supported the larger Option 3, while other commissioners weren’t as keen about those plans.
Despite the costs, Chair Susan Scovell and Commissioner Gary Lipton held fast in their insistence that more downtown parking is essential for the efficiency of Ketchum’s vehicle flow.
“I want more public parking,” Lipton said. “If we don’t [approve one of these options], I don’t think it will ever be done by the city. This is our opportunity to give the public parking. I just don’t know how we’re going to fund it.”
He added that he believes the issue to be largely a fault of city leaders who haven’t placed enough importance on the city’s parking stock. He said anyone who thinks the current City Council will add parking on its own accord is “dreaming.”
Slanetz, a member of the Ketchum City Council, pushed back on that.
Scovell pointed out that there isn’t another city-owned lot of this size that could accommodate downtown parking.
“If we are going to add parking downtown, it has to happen here,” she said.
Davis-Jeffers said he wanted to look closer at “how the sausage was made”— i.e., what went into the prices the developer proposed. He said he might be more amenable to the proposals if he sees that these costs truly reflect the current market and can’t be brought down in any way.
Also at question is the what portion the developer will pay and what will fall to the city and KURA. The developer presented four funding options:
The first—in which all the parking is public—would be completely publicly funded, paid for with bonds and cash from the KURA.
The second includes partly public and partly residential parking, with the public portion funded by the KURA and the private portion being funded by the developer.
The third option is completely public parking, but partly funded by the developer.
The final option is for the developer to fund the project with combined public and residential parking, with the KURA reimbursing it for part of the costs over time. If the KURA decides to completely abandon public parking at the site, the developer will fund the project in its entirety. deChase Miksis has expressed openness to adjusting its contribution to the project, but a spokesperson said that would probably require raising rents.
After a comment from Lipton in which he implied Davis-Jeffers wanted to “squeeze” the developer for more money by asking if deChase Miksis would be willing to contribute more, Davis-Jeffers said that was not his goal.
“I do!” replied Lipton, who made clear his intent to represent the public’s best interest on the project.
The KURA was unanimous in its direction that staff should continue to work with involved parties to further refine the proposals and come up with more specific cost estimates. The city of Ketchum has expressed interest in helping to fund the project despite not being included in the proposed funding options in the presentation.
The other five proposals, which were in conflict with at least one of the previously mentioned KURA goals, ranged from offering 31 to 93 parking spaces at costs between $4.9 million and $12.3 million.
Davis-Jeffers said it’s not just the cost at issue.
“I’m not nitpicking the [total] cost, I’m just saying that the cost per parking spot is too expensive,” he said. “Right now, the community’s priority is workforce housing—and if we can’t get that and parking for a reasonable amount, then we’re going to have to prioritize workforce housing and hope a [parking] solution comes from another project.”
Lipton countered, saying the feedback he has heard from the community is that parking is badly needed, and this project is a crucial opportunity to preserve some. Dove asked him whether the parking is really worth the cost. Lipton replied that he isn’t sure.
City administrator Jade Riley emphasized that for now, Ketchum is in fine shape when it comes to parking spaces.
“The reality is we will always be able to manage our day-to-day retail uses—we can manage those with our current system,” he said. “The trade-off we’re exploring right now is for parkers [in the future].”
Riley said these issues can be traced back to Ketchum’s lack of a “workhorse” parking structure, like a parking garage, which typically anchors an area’s parking needs while being supplemented by smaller public lots, private lots and street parking. Ketchum is without that go-to structure, and at some point, the growing town could be at capacity with nowhere to send the thousands of people who commute to Ketchum for work, errands and more each day. Frick added that as of now, there is available parking throughout downtown within a five- to 10-minute walk of any storefront, even at peak times.
The city has to have a firm decision made by May—which Frick acknowledged puts things on a fairly tight schedule. She asked if there was anything else the KURA needed.
“I’d like a drink!” Scoville said. ￼
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Ketchum Traffic Authority has a parking plan. It has no projection for supply or demand of parking spots. Is that really a plan? Just because they call it a plan doesn’t mean it is a plan.
More parking is yesterday's solution to today's problem. Ketchum has become so unpleasant to visit over the past 30 years due to the onslaught of the massive grill, F150 crowd. Last summer, I noticed numerous families and groups attempting to get around town on e-bikes - because that's how it is done these days. We notice the bus to/from Hailey jammed with people that don't want to deal with driving a car to Ketchum to only have it hung around their neck like an albatross once they get there. If only Ketchum would scratch and claw its way into the present, it could focus on bike and pedestrian friendly streets, instead of creating more acres of useless parking - which only discourages visitors. Studies shows retail thrives and property values soar when you reduce parking, not increase it.
When this KURA meeting started to go sideways (when Mr. Lipton started challenging the City Council), guess who strode into the meeting to make his presence known--the Mayor. Despite the protestations of the KURA chair, KURA is not and independent agency. It is a tool for the Mayor to implement his vision for Ketchum in a way that is outside of the normal budget for the City. It would make a great investigative article for this paper to document the history of this KURA and where the money has flowed.
Why don’t we have affordable housing? Maybe because Blaine county is a sanctuary city. Illegals have moved in to all of the “affordable “ rentals and jam 12 people in a house. Parking on city streets, and causing even more parking issues. But god forbid you loose your yard guy and housekeepers who don’t pay taxes, and are buying all of the vacant land in Blaine county paying cash…
Over and over again, I say the City of Ketchum neglects its primary responsibility: to maintain our infrastructure. Look at our roads!! They cannot even keep the roads clear for people to get to the mountain (the reason why people come here in the winter.) Nor do the fill the monster potholes that inundate the city. There is no capital budget for road replacement!!!!!! Now we are talking parking... this is all you have to know: they will be removing all parking from Main St (highway 75) when the city expands the road. Along with all the workforce housing they are putting in the middle of town with no parking, the city will be clogged. Where are people supposed to park to shop at the stores that are vital to Ketchum? Do they expect seniors to walk blocks over the icy roads they don't maintain to get to a restaurant? The mayor of Ketchum doesn't care. It fits into his concept that everyone should bicycle just like him. This is the man who shut down 4th St without any warning and put in a baffling light system where it intersects Main St. in his personal want to turn 4th St. into a Mall (that light should be removed for safety sake.) There is no thought process in anything this City does. Now they have approved another housing project prior to thinking about parking. They never learn.
Excellent summary. The crippling impact of substantially reduced parking combined with more and more "work force" housing and commercial buildings will soon be felt. Folks will avoid going to Ketchum for shopping! This City Council is pathetic!
The big fail here is the total lack of a city plan for Ketchum, that would reflect the Councils push for more tourism businesses, more short term rental, more density and fewer parking spaces. I’d love to see a mock up of what Ketchum will look like in 10 years if this Council gets its way. ADUs? Just more AirBNBs. The $50k the Council spent on a traffic study showing that Main Street becomes a parking lot? Might as well have lit the money on fire because the Council binned it. Retail development in Ketchum? Just a matter of time before they permit a Prada store, as they way they are developing the commercial core prices local retailers out of business and makes it so locals can’t access retail. Parking in the core? Maybe not an issue today, but if you keep promoting density while actively reduce it the number of parking spaces, we will eventually reach a tipping point. Remember, all the people who will live in the Washington units will want to park, as will all the Bluebird people, as will all the people in all the increased density apartment in Ketchum. The average unit in Ketchum has 1.3 cars. The regs call for either zero parking spots for low income housing or 1 spot for other housing units. Ketchum council is rapidly turning the town into the next Aspen. Judge them by what they do, not by what they say. For example, in the referendum you cannot vote for housing unless you vote to keep subsidizing tourism. Tourism is their #1 priority, not the quality of life for the people who live in Ketchum. In fact, listen to every city council meeting and count the times they say the word tourism and count the times they say quality of life. Wait…they never say quality of life.
Perry, the other point being missed is the one regarding the parking for retail and service workers who commute up from south County and places further south of Timmerman. If you think it’s hard to convince workers to fill the downtown core jobs now, just wait. Not everyone rides the bus north…and there isn’t enough all day worker parking.
Evan you make an excellent point, but one that will not be addressed by the current Mayor/Council. Read the Housing Plan to understand their thinking. Its primary theme is that all people who work in Ketchum should be able to live in Ketchum. That's obviously idiotic, as it that would add 4000 people to a town of less than that. The plan calls for almost $400mm of affordable housing over the next decade. They want to increase density in the retail core to accommodate this plan, and believe that everyone will walk to work and do a car sharing program. If you don't believe me, listen to the council meetings on Bluebird, where they said the residents will all walk to work and won't have cars and that is why it doesn't need parking. Just like Ketch and now with this new KURA building. The Council is also doing nothing to get people out of cars and onto the bus. Ms Hamilton has said their is no reason for providing a bus to the airport because the hotels provide that--like only tourists matter and the rest of are unimportant. The Mayor sits on the board of Mountain Rides and has done nothing to work with them to get people out of cars. The Council has greenlighted a plan to eliminate parking on Main Street. They paid for, and then through away, a traffic simulation because they didn't like the answer. Their Master Transportation Plan predicts intersection failure at the entrance to town. What did they do? Gave a Marriott at that location every waiver it sought. It has become crystal clear that this Mayor/Council want Ketchum to become Aspen. Every action they take pushes us in that direction. The only way to stop them is to stop re-electing them.
Wow, now they're doing housing for folks at or above AMI? WHaaat?
Also, anyone who has watched since 2017 has seen that lot empty everyday. It is the "workhorse" of Ketchum's parking infrastructure... didn't do much work. Didn't need to, there's plenty of parking in town.
Save the money for housing for people BELOW the AMI.
So you don’t think teachers at Hemingway should be able to live in Ketchum? According to BCSD average teacher pay is $85k. How about first responders? The AMI levels are for the county as a whole and do not reflect the prevailing wages in Ketchum.
Welcome to the discussion.