Bluebird Village plan takes the next step | Ketchum
The Bluebird Village workforce housing development project in downtown Ketchum passed a major hurdle on Tuesday and is one step closer to obtaining full city permission to proceed with construction .
In a five-hour meeting that featured passionate testimony from supporters and detractors, the Ketchum Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approved the request for a design review of the Ketchum project. rental units of 51 units. The 5-0 vote was recorded with 21 conditions of approval.
While the P&Z was primarily responsible for determining whether the project complied with the city code, the decision was made against the backdrop of a severe housing crisis in Ketchum and the Wood River Valley.
“One thing is inevitable about this project is that it is big,” said Commissioner Tim Carter, noting that it would be “a big change” in a congested downtown area that has a variety of developments.
“The problem it is supposed to solve is also important,” he added.
The P&Z also unanimously approved a conditional use permit to allow the project’s property management office to be located on the ground floor.
On this controversial and high-profile project, Seattle-based GMD Development is partnering with the non-profit Ketchum Community Development Corp. to construct two four-story buildings totaling approximately 68,000 square feet at 480 East Ave., the current Ketchum City site. Hall and the headquarters of the Ketchum Fire and Police Department. The approximately 0.6 acre site sits on two lots.
The existing building would be demolished and the land would be leased for the project for up to 99 years. The city is expected to move the fire department, police department and administration away from the city hall site this year. The land use restrictions would require Bluebird Village to be maintained as affordable housing for at least 40 years.
The two buildings, with a maximum height of around 51 feet and 49 feet, would include a combination of studios, one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom units, with an area of approximately 460 to 1. 100 square feet. The deeded residential units would be built over three floors on ground floors including offices, commercial spaces, 46 parking spaces and 133 bicycle spaces. The buildings would be connected by a closed, elevated walkway over the town lane dividing the block.
The project benefits from the city code development bonuses for 100% community housing buildings, including a density bonus and a provision whereby it is eligible to reach a height of 52 feet.
The plans call for 26 one-bedroom units, 17 two-bedroom units, five studios and three three-bedroom units. With oversight, the project would implement a “local preference policy” that targets workers at varying income levels in the workforce, based on the region’s median income at the time.
Facilities for residents include decks, storage lockers, a small fitness center, and rooftop community space.
In a staff report at P&Z, senior planner Abby Rivin recommended approval of the permits.
“The Bluebird Village project balances two key community goals: preserving the vibrancy of the downtown core and increasing the supply of affordable housing in Ketchum,” the report says. “This development is in line with the community’s vision and goals for the downtown core, as detailed in the 2014 Global Plan.”
Rivin told the P&Z on Tuesday that the city had received 292 comments in favor of the project since February and 112 against.
Lead developer Greg Dunfield said the project went through several iterations to respond to comments and criticism from the public, planners and a previous workshop with the P&Z.
“I think the result is a balanced building, a balanced design and a balanced development program that is worth the sacrifice of being integrated into the fabric of downtown Ketchum,” he said.
Many citizens commented on the proposed project, some in favor and others in strong opposition.
Those opposed to Bluebird Village criticized the size, design and potential impacts of the project on the parking lot and neighbors. Supporters have often cited a critical need for workforce housing, a persistent problem that has escalated this year with widespread labor shortages in Ketchum and other towns in the Wood River Valley.
Ketchum resident Susan Martin told P&Z the review process lacks transparency and the project has long been a “done deal” at town hall.
“This huge apartment complex is crammed into a 0.6 acre plot with no regard for the consent of adjacent neighbors or tax-paying residents of this city,” she said.
Sue Dumke, owner of an adjacent property, urged the P&Z to preserve the historic character of the city.
“Where do you find a historic town where someone has a 51-unit low-rental housing project right in the middle? ” she asked.
Ketchum resident Perry Boyle, a vocal critic of Bluebird Village, said the staff report on the project amounted to a “sales memo.” He criticized the size of the buildings.
“It’s a 10 pound bag of manure in a 2 pound bag,” he said. “It’s just too big for the site. “
Some speakers approved the project as a solution to the housing crisis in the region and to staff shortages in companies.
Ketchum resident and commercial operator Jake Peters said he was “a big fan” of the project. He noted that he brings people to Ketchum to work in jobs over $ 100,000, but these workers are struggling to afford housing.
“What is the alternative? Sprawl? ” He asked. “If people want to come to town, they have to live somewhere. … The height and density in the heart of the city is exactly what I want. Because the alternative is to eat in my mountain bike trails, or the Nordic trails or the hinterland.
Former mayor Ed Simon also asked for approval.
“We are past the tipping point for housing in Ketchum,” he said. “This project is not perfect. He has his faults. But, right now, we need to move forward with Project Bluebird, because housing is of critical importance.
P&Z Commissioner Carter said he wanted the public to understand that he and the rest of the panel took “seriously the housing issue and the potential impact of a project like this on our city.”
He noted that there are risks in approving the project and risks in rejecting it, but the housing issue needs to be addressed.
“We can’t just stay in one place,” he said. “We have to look for new solutions.
P&Z President Neil Morrow said citizens and government have generally agreed for decades that density should go to the heart of the city, and development codes reflect this approach.
“We’ve spent 20 years saying, ‘Let’s put density at the heart. Let’s put some density in the core. ‘ “, did he declare. “And the first big project that we get to put in the kernel, everybody is like, ‘We don’t want density in the kernel. There are better places for it.
The P&Z also approved a zoning code amendment that would change a 10 foot structural setback on the fourth floor of projects that are 100% community housing to an average 10 foot setback. The Bluebird Village project is currently based on the approval of the code change, which must also be approved by city council.
The P&Z will review and decide whether or not to approve the findings of fact and the terms of the decisions when convened on Tuesday, August 24.
If P&Z approval is appealed, city council will consider the design review applications and the conditional use permit.
Whether or not there is an appeal, city council will review the project height bonus and setbacks for the fourth floor.