16-03-02 Ketchum City Hall 2 Roland.jpg

The Ketchum City Hall building on East Avenue served as a car dealership in the 1970s.

An affordable housing development slated to be built at the current site of Ketchum City Hall is back on track following a financial agreement between the developer and the Ketchum Urban Renewal Agency.

The KURA board unanimously pledged $564,860 to support the 50-plus unit project in its application for tax-credit financing from the Idaho Housing and Finance Association on Monday. It will only be on the hook for the approved funds if the application is approved later this year.

Last year, Bluebird Village fell short on the IHFA’s rubric for the increasingly competitive fund mechanism. Bluebird Village was initially proposed in 2019, spearheaded by the city of Ketchum, the Ketchum Community Development Corporation and developer Greg Dunfield of Seattle-based GMD Development. Dunfield, who presented the plan once again to the KURA this week, said the project will go through this time, regardless of whether or not it’s awarded tax-credit funding. If the application falls short a second time, Dunfield will turn to private investors, he told the KURA board.

“We will find a way to get this done,” Dunfield said.

According to previous reporting by the Mountain Express, the earmarked funds are intended to boost the project’s chances in the case of a tie on the Idaho Housing and Finance Association’s rubric for tax credit financing. Last year, the Blaine County commissioners made a similar commitment, paying $500,000 in support to an affordable housing project on the site of the former Blaine Manor in Hailey; that project was one of eight to receive the limited, federally issued money during the last round.

Bluebird Village had the largest request of any applicant during that round, seeking a total of $11,273,480 over the ten-year life of the funding.

Since then, the overall project has doubled—though on Monday, details remained sparse.

The development now boasts 55 to 56 housing units, rather than the previous 28 proposed last year. It was not made clear if all the units will be for affordable housing, or if some would serve other purposes. In last year’s application, 25 units were earmarked as affordable, according to the IHFA.

Now, the units would be spread among two buildings on the property, one where the current city hall stands and a second on the parking lot just to the east of the alley behind the city hall building. The project is proposed to be four stories, with resident amenities on the roof and managerial and bike storage space on the ground floor.

The tax credit administered federally by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, awards funds to developers of low-income housing. The 9 percent credit, if received, would subsidize 70 percent of the low-income unit construction cost, and the funding from the KURA would support infrastructure improvements around the housing project. Those improvements include heated pedestrian pavers on East Fifth Street and East Avenue, streetlights around the new development, new sewer lines, new curbs and gutters, and underground wiring for Idaho Power Company, Cox, Century and Intermountain Gas around the development.

Dunfield hopes this year’s application will have a stronger chance following IHFA’s change to scoring criteria, which now places more weight on projects that involve local construction groups and receive local financial backing, like Bluebird Village.

The IHFA is expected to award the funding sometime after Thanksgiving, according to Dunfield. Demolition of the Ketchum City Hall building would begin in the fall of 2021, as the city administration and police department migrate to their new home at 191 Fifth St. W. and the fire department relocates to the new station on Saddle Road, which is currently under construction.

If funded, Bluebird Village would be completed in 2022, Dunfield said.

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