Community January 12, 2023

The Changing Landscape

Of the Wood River Valley


The history of Ketchum and Sun Valley is so rich and entrenched that any change or construction is usually met with question marks from locals. However, after the pandemic, Ketchum and Sun Valley boomed as if it were the 1980s and beyond. As much as locals would like to keep Ketchum as it was, this beautiful place we call home needed a facelift. With seven significant projects underway, a lot will be going on in 2023 and beyond. Those upgrades include the Main Street Mobility Project, Warm Springs Road analysis, Warm Springs Preserve, multiple capital improvement projects, Sun Valley Road improvements, community housing projects, and downtown parking plans. Ketchum’s founder, David Ketchum, once famously said, “… Wonder what’ll happen t’ ol’ Ketchum. Prob’ly dry up an’ blow away…”. If he could see what happened to ol’ Ketchum, he’d probably be blown away.

Warm Springs Preserve

The City of Ketchum has purchased the beloved Warm Springs Preserve—65 acres of open space for the community to enjoy in perpetuity. Priorities for the Preserve include off-leash dog access, creek and habitat restoration, new water-conscious irrigation system, walking trails, informal gatherings and activities, Nordic ski and snowshoe trails, and public restrooms. Development, organized sports and reserved private or commercial events would be restricted.

Affordable Housing and  Bluebird Village

The City of Ketchum developed the Housing Action Plan based on relevant housing needs data, community input, and guidance from a task force comprised of a cross-section of community members. The Action Plan is also built on the belief that solving community housing issues requires a multifaceted approach. The most notable solution is Bluebird Village. GMD Development LLC and Ketchum Community Development Corporation (KCDC) are the co-developers proposing Bluebird Village, which is at 480 East Ave N. in Ketchum. Bluebird Village will provide 49 on-site parking spaces for the proposed 56 units. Bluebird Village also plans to provide 110 bike parking spaces, six parking spaces for e-bikes with charging stations, and two car-share spaces.

Capital Improvements

The fiscal year 2023 is the second year of the updated five-year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). An important reminder for citizens is that the CIP does not have a significant, ongoing or dedicated revenue stream. Planned expenses for FY23 total $2,549,374, with the largest project being the Warm Springs Preserve at $1 million.

Warm Springs Road Alternative Analysis

The City and transportation engineering firm, HDR Engineering, are working on plans to improve pedestrian and vehicular mobility on Warm Springs Road between Main Street and Saddle Road. The goals of the project are to address traffic calming needs and slow vehicle speeds, improve access for all modes of travel—walking, biking and transit, enhance public realm to serve as a gateway or transition zone, and provide an intersection that will serve traffic adequately in the future.

Sun Valley Road Improvements

The City of Ketchum has partnered with the City of Sun Valley to reconstruct Sun Valley Road this summer, as the roadway has reached the end of its useful life. The project is a full rebuild, giving it a lifespan of approximately 20 years. The city explored construction dates outside of the peak summer months but due to the size and scope of the project, this was the only feasible time for the contractor to complete the work.

Hailey & Bellevue

Within the Blaine County Comprehensive Plan, the Hailey and Bellevue canyon subarea encompasses over 85,000 acres of land, including the cities of Hailey and Bellevue and the various canyons—Quigley Canyon to the east of Hailey, Croy Canyon and Colorado Gulch to the west, and Indian Creek to the north; and Lees Gulch, Townsend Gulch and Minnie Moore Gulch to the west of Bellevue, and Slaughterhouse and Seamans Creek (commonly called Muldoon Canyon) to the east. Approximately 60% of the land in this area is federally managed, with 49,000 acres managed by the BLM, 1,200 acres by the U.S. Forest Service and 5,500 acres by the Idaho Department of Lands, leaving only approximately 1,125 privately held parcels, including 64 patented mining claims. 

Sun Valley Luxury Car Rental

A new 18,849-square-foot commercial space to be used for Sun Valley Luxury Car Rental along State Hwy 75 between 3rd Avenue S. and Airport Way (on a portion of the old Silvercreek Ford lot location). Approved June 21, 2022.

LL Green’s Hardware

A new two-story hardware store (14,946-square-foot first floor and 1,589-square-foot second floor) at the corner of Main Street and McKercher Blvd., across Main Street from Albertsons Market. Approved August 2, 2021.

Community Housing

The City of Hailey has been working on housing issues since 2010, especially related to community workforce housing. Currently, the city has approximately 476 community housing units, which equates to approximately 14% of the overall housing stock (3,400 housing units), with an additional 77 units currently under construction—12 through the Wood River Community Housing Trust, 12 through BCHA, 39 with ARCH and 14 negotiated through the City of Hailey. More are being reviewed through new proposed developments such as Flying Heart Ranch East through the Oppenheimer Group and others currently under consideration.

Sun Valley Auto Club Expansion & Redesign

A redevelopment of a 10,102-square-foot vehicle storage warehouse and showroom located at 1930 Embraer Way—a detached expansion of the current Sun Valley Auto Club building. Approved April 18, 2022.

Updated Electric Bike Rules

November 2022 saw approval on text amendments to allow for electric bicycles and alternative electric motored vehicles (e.g., electric scooters, electric skateboards, one-wheels) on city streets, pathways, and trails to encourage the usage of more environmentally friendly modes of transportation (Chapter 10.40, 12.04, 12.12).

Municipal Clean Fleet Transition

Through the Clean Energy Resolution, Hailey committed to a 100% clean-energy-powered vehicle fleet and clean-energy-powered maintenance equipment by 2030. This past September, the Water Division purchased two all-electric Ford Lightning trucks to be used as part of the Water Division vehicle fleet. The Wastewater Division also purchased an all-electric commuter car for on-call employees to utilize to respond to emergencies during their on-call shift. Under Development.

Karl Malone Powersports & Karl Malone Ford

M&M Powersports LLC is planning new construction of two buildings with a total of 35,989 square feet for the new Karl Malone Ford Dealership and the Ford Powersports store located adjacent to Kirtley Street and HWY 75.

Flying Heart Ranch East

Area of City Impact Renegotiation with Blaine County for the property, referred to as “Flying Heart Ranch East” which is now owned by the Oppenheimer Group.  The new owners have expressed interest in applying for the annexation of lands outside Hailey’s current boundaries of the ACI, into the City of Hailey, as well as the annexation of lands into the City of Bellevue. This will lead to the property being Annexed into Hailey and Bellevue, both, once the ACI has been renegotiated. The project proposal features mixed-use, including community housing units, parks and open space, and light industrial and multi-family housing. Collaborative annexation discussions are currently underway in Hailey, Bellevue and the County.

Bellevue Core – Residential Overlay District

Residential Overlay District will be re-proposed to the Commission sometime in the new year to create an Overlay District along Bellevue’s Main Street core to allow multi-family zoning. This is in the beginning stages and still requires additional resources and infrastructure improvements. Pending approval.

Strahorn Subdivision – Block 2

Strahorn Block 2 was approved for their PUD and CUP to continue development as scheduled.  Encompassing 29.2 acres, 48 single-family residential lots, as part of a master plan that included 110 acres divided into 5 blocks, three parcels of which contain areas of open space, floodplain and avalanche per the city Annexation Agreement of 2009. Infrastructure will begin sometime in the spring of 2023.

Gannett Ranch

Gannett Ranch Holdings LLC has applied for the annexation of approximately 186 gross acres of incorporated land into the City of Bellevue, a process which began with the Bellevue City Council accepting the application that then went to the Bellevue P&Z for compliance with the Annexation Ordinance (as of printing Dec. 2022).ï

This article appears in the Winter 2022 Issue of Sun Valley Magazine.