The Ketchum Urban Renewal Agency has tentatively agreed to assist with supplementing the cost of pedestrian-friendly improvements at the former KIC building under construction at the northwest corner of Sun Valley Road and First Avenue.
During a meeting Monday, property owner Dave Wilson requested funds to supplement the cost of installing 8-foot-wide heated paver sidewalks parallel to the building on Sun Valley Road and First Avenue, redesigning and installing a bulb-out curb at the corner of First Avenue and Sun Valley Road and installing a bench, new tree wells and street lights, for a total of $190,000.
The building will be a mixed-use structure with retail and residential space.
According to Wilson’s presentation to the Planning & Zoning Commission last year, the bulb-out would enhance Ketchum’s walkability and bike-friendly feel with its extra bike racks and seating, which would require a right-of-way encroachment agreement with the city. Though bulb-outs can complicate snow removal, they can help to slow traffic and provide adequate space for rest and socialization, the building’s architect, Buffalo Rixon, told the P&Z last August.
KURA board member and Ketchum City Councilman Jim Slanetz initially voiced his opinions against providing funding to the project, stating that part of the KURA’s modus operandi is to fund projects that wouldn’t otherwise be feasible without financial backing from the agency. Since the bulb-out was presented to the P&Z last year, the funding was clearly already available, he said. However, Wilson said at that time that he was unaware of the KURA and the assistance in funding that it could offer for projects that would improve city infrastructure. Slanetz and board Chairwoman Susan Scovell also scoffed at the price of the project, with Slanetz calling the amount “excessive.”
Ultimately, the agency voted in favor of proceeding with funding the project, citing the developer’s plan to create two affordable housing units in the new structure—an addition not required due to the building’s compliance with the city’s zoning ordinance.
KURA Executive Director and Ketchum City Administrator Suzanne Frick said she would work to create a reimbursement agreement that will be presented to the agency next month for approval. Conditions will state that the owner will be eligible for reimbursement in the amount of 50 percent of the new tax increment generated by the project for two and a half years. Currently, the taxable value of the property is $1,367,538 and the applicant estimates the value after project completion to be $8 million to $9 million. In the first year, the extra increment is projected to be $42,850, with a 50 percent split providing $24,425 each to the owner and to the KURA. The increment is estimated to increase each year by 3 percent.
Other KURA news
Last month, the agency agreed begin spending on budgeted improvements using local contractors that could benefit the community sooner rather than later.
Those include the closure of Fourth Street between Walnut and Leadville avenues, for which the KURA will pay for the bollards that will replace the current planters blocking vehicle access. According to Frick, research is being done to identify bollards that will be compatible with city snow removal.
Meanwhile, local contractors have already been hired to repair ADA-compliant ramps and damaged curbs throughout the city’s downtown. Specific sites are still being determined.
Lastly, the KURA-funded “HAWK” system—a “high intensity activated crosswalk traffic control device that stops road cars to allow pedestrians to cross safely—will be installed at Fourth and Main Street once the parts are all purchased—hopefully by the end of summer, Frick told the agency board.