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A High Trapeze Act Adds Four More Affordable Homes to the Wood River Valley
This is the closest this home will ever be to its neighbor.
Wednesday, January 31, 2024


The makings for a first responder community left Idaho Falls Tuesday morning. And by 4 p.m. four new tiny homes were in place at the Greenhorn Fire Station just south of East Fork Road.

The 60-foot-long homes, which took five months to build, were placed on the flatbeds of semi-trucks at 7:30 a.m. ready for a three-hour trip across the Arco desert past Craters of the Moon National Monument. They began arriving in the Wood River Valley before noon.

Awaiting them were four foundations that firefighters had emptied of snow earlier.

Cranes lift one of the tiny homes off the flatbed on which it arrived.

“If this had been last year when we had so much snow, we would’ve had to wait until spring to do this,” said Rich Bauer, assistant fire chief for Sun Valley Fire Department. “As it was, we only shoveled about 10 inches of snow.”

The tiny homes, built by Zip Kit Homes, were the last of eight being placed at the fire station to provide affordable housing for firefighters, police officers and other first responders. The first four now have electricity and running water and are awaiting certificate of occupancy.

It’s hoped the new residents can begin moving in in a couple weeks.

“We didn’t want people living here with open foundations,” said Bauer. “With the last remaining homes now on their foundations, we feel we can move them in.”

Rich Bauer and Jim Keating show off the kitchen in one of the homes.

It took four hours for two cranes owned by Boomers Crane & Transport of Roberts, Idaho, to place the four homes on their foundations—a pace of one per hour.

“It’s a choreographed dance. They chain up, pull up, pick up and gracefully move each house onto its foundation,” said Lisa Marie Allen.

Allen was among a small crowd watching the “choreographed dance” that included Bauer, Sun Valley Fire Chief Taan Robrahn, Sun Valley City Administrator Jim Keating and Sun Valley Mayor Peter Hendricks.

The operation looked like a high trapeze act without acrobats.

Workers prepare to lower a home onto its foundation abutting the Wood River Trail bike path.

First, a semi-truck hauling a tiny home had to back in to a narrow spot between the fire station and the place where the home was to go. Crane operators lowered two giant triangles down as men standing in mud wrapped 50-foot six-inch straps hanging from each triangle under both ends of the home.

With the straps secured, the semi pulled away leaving the home dangling in the air. The cranes then picked it up, adjusting for slight swaying. They swung it over above the foundation and lowered it with a spotter making sure they got it on the foundation just right.

“It takes them 15 minutes to strap the home in, then five minutes and the home’s on the ground,” said Keating.

In between moves, Bauer took visitors on a tour of one of the 840-square foot homes. The rectangular home has a spacious feel with the living room boasting a small fireplace and mantle. The kitchen sports a large refrigerator, dishwasher, microwave and sink. A smaller bedroom lies just beyond the kitchen, while a master bedroom with a ceiling fan sits towards the other end. One bathroom features a bathtub. The other features a long counter with two sinks and a spacious shower.

Right now the homes are surrounded by a gloppy mess. But they’ll be the beneficiary of landscaping come spring.

The homes boast high ceilings, are air-conditioned and they seem to keep out the noise of the highway, noted Keating.

“They’re not tiny homes. They’re homes. And the people who are coming in are super excited,” said Bauer.

Kyle Sorenson said Lunceford Excavation will cover the muddy parking lot with asphalt come spring. The fire department is negotiating with Idaho Transportation Department to build a berm with some trees between the highway and the homes, said Keating. Additional landscaping will include features for BBQs and what not in the 40-foot yards between each home.

The project cost $3.2 million, according to Jed Gray, chair of the North Blaine County Fire District. Each home will rent for $650 a month.

“They get the lower rent in exchange for responding to calls and maintaining apparatus and equipment,” said Bauer. “We’re still raising money to finish the project, put in the landscaping and keep the rates affordable.”

The Greenhorn Fire Station Housing project is a joint project between the North Blaine County Fire District and the City of Sun Valley with help from such organizations as the Wood River Women’s Foundation, Sun Valley Board of Realtors, Idaho Department of Transportation and individual donors.

Keating called it one of the most gratifying projects he’s been involved in, adding that it’s been a labor of love since Day 1.

Robrahn said having firefighters on site will decrease the response time for fires and accidents. And the project helps chip away at the need for affordable housing in the valley.

“It’s amazing to see it come together. This is one of those projects that’s going to give back to the community for a long time to come,” he added.

“A year from now this is going to be incredible—a first responder community,” added Bauer.

Donations can be sent to Spur Community Foundation, Attn: Greenhorn Fire Station Housing Fund, Box 6184, Ketchum, ID 83340. They also can be made by credit card on Spur’s website at (click on “Donate to a Fund.)

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