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Ketchum's affordable housing project

Posted at 9:08 PM, Aug 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-20 09:37:04-04

KETCHUM, Idaho — The city of Ketchum is known for being a relatively wealthy area that attracts large numbers of tourists. Despite this notion, the city is working on a project to increase affordable housing to attract residents and help their economy.

The complex is part of a three-phase construction project for the entire city of Ketchum. First has been the construction of the new Fire Department, and next was finding a new building for city hall, for which city officials will be moving into next year and now the complex which will occupy the site of the current city hall.

The complex, which will be named, Bluebird Village, will consist of two buildings offering 55 units with rent ranging from $565 to $1,427. Other amenities will also be available for the medium to low-income families that will occupy the space.

Bluebird Village will provide parking for 85% of its residents, one to three-bedroom units, and some other amenities such as balconies, common areas, and even a small gym.

The city also hopes the housing can benefit its economy. Ketchum experiences loads of people who work from neighboring towns who have to commute and cannot participate in what the community has to offer. This new residence will provide an influx of residents who will be able to engage in community groups, activities, and shop at local businesses.

Mayor Neil Bradshaw said, "Whether they're in a band, whether they're helping the local schools do after school programs, if we can reduce the commute, we're making a big difference to the health of our community."

However, the project is not set in stone just yet. The project's overall cost is $22 million. There is a permanent loan of $6 million for the site, a $565,000 loan from the Ketchum Urban Renewal Agency, and the city has agreed to fund $1.4 million if it receives tax credit funding from the Idaho Housing and Finance Association.

The application will be sent in the coming weeks, and the city will not hear back if they received the funding until December.

"These projects do not pencil financially unless you receive some kind of award. We're looking to get an award which would be equivalent to around $10 to $12 million of tax credits over the life of the project, and that will allow us to fund the gap," said Bradshaw.

Tax credit funding is an investment that grants the ability to reduce the amount of taxes that a city pays on a dollar for dollar basis. This sort of financing is used for low-income housing projects to help make money while helping the community.

The city has applied for this funding before and has failed to receive it. Despite not obtaining it in the past, Ketchum remains hopeful as city leaders feel this year's application hits many of the IHFA criteria, especially community contribution with multiple organizations funding the project and that the city already owns the property, which costs $3 million.

If the city is not awarded the fund, it will not abandon the project and look for other sources of funding. However, if approved, the city aims for the completion of the project in late 2022.