Construction is in full swing at the long-awaited Blaine Manor | Blaine County

“Sorry,” said an older man as he peeked his head in Mike McKenna’s office at the Hailey Welcome Center last week. “I’m sorry to bother you, but the apartment people called and told me I had a unit.

“I’m so excited,” he continued. “I just want to make sure it’s real and that you didn’t accidentally call me.”

The man was referring to The Housing Company, a nonprofit that connects low-income residents with affordable housing on behalf of the Idaho Housing and Finance Association.

Lately, corporate representatives have been working outside of the Hailey Welcome Center’s offices, reviewing piles of applications for the Blaine Manor Senior and Family Community’s new affordable housing project with 60 units and letters of admission mailed.

McKenna – the executive director of the Hailey Chamber, which also has its offices in the Welcome Center – watched the older man visibly fight back tears to find that his application had indeed been approved.

“Having a nice place to live is a dream come true,” McKenna recalled of the man who told him. “I can stay here, stay at home where I love it”

According to Michelle Griffith, Executive Director of the ARCH Community Housing Trust, the apartments at Blaine Manor have already been allocated on the senior side – the northern green building with rustic beams – but the application deadline for affordable two and three bedroom apartments facing south is still open .

(The “family” building along the curve of Main Street is significantly different, with a gray color scheme and garden style, directly accessible apartments.)

In less than a month, according to Griffith, the 18 one-room apartments and 12 two-room apartments on the senior side should be fully occupied. All but three units went to residents aged 55 and over who earn 60% or less of the median Hailey income in the area, she added.

“It’s hard to believe that moving in day is December 15th. We’re really trying to get people in before the holidays, ”Griffith said with a laugh as she gave a tour of the building on Wednesday. “It’s a bit like a beehive right now.”

Inside, dozens of contractors carried sinks down the hall, cut doors, and laid tiles; Outside, landscapers in neon sweatshirts and hats were busy breaking up solid dirt, digging trenches with ditch witches, and carefully laying rolls of lawn with gloved hands.

On the first floor of the senior citizen’s building, Griffith pointed out a conference room, two guest bathrooms and a communal lounge with a stone fireplace. On the second floor, a one bedroom apartment with a view of Carbonate and the Smoky Mountains beyond; on the third floor, two bedroom apartment overlooking Nelson Fields, 97 uncovered parking spaces and an outdoor children’s play area, still under development.

Griffith took a moment to ponder the history of the project site and the construction pipeline.

“In the first year we looked for real estate and looked for financing. In the second year we were signed up; in year two and a half we started the entitlement process which was difficult with COVID, ”she said. “We weren’t even sure what the video chat and electronic meeting protocol was back then.”

Until 2015, the 2.75-hectare property housed the county-subsidized Blaine Manor specialist care facility. After the care facility was closed, the county tried unsuccessfully to auction the land in 2015 – and Idaho law released the county to otherwise dispose of the property. After hearing a series of presentations, the Blaine County commissioners tentatively offered the land to ARCH – along with some of the money in support – so that the Housing Trust could pursue tax credit funding to develop the site into affordable housing.

In May 2020, the development was unanimously approved by the Hailey City Council. The following month, Blaine County commissioners approved a deed to transfer the property from the county to the Idaho Housing and Finance Association, while also passing a resolution declaring that the transfer was in the public interest.

On Wednesday, about six years and countless hours after the project began, Griffith watched as contractors put the finishing touches on the two buildings.

“It’s been a long way,” she said.

About Rachael Garcia

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