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The Meadows Puts a Tiny Dent in the Affordable Housing Crisis
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Friday, October 29, 2021
 

STORY AND PHOTOS BY KAREN BOSSICK

Thursday afternoon three solutions to the Wood River Valley’s persistent housing crisis rolled through the traffic light in Hailey bound for their new home near Ketchum.

The tiny homes, mounted on flatbed trailers, were to join three other tiny homes at The Meadows RV Park just south of Ketchum. And in a month they’ll become homes for employees of Ketchum’s Limelight Hotel, Zenergy Health Club & Spa and St. Luke’s Wood River.

“It is very difficult to source new manufactured homes at this time due to unprecedented demand nationally compounded by COVID-era supply chain issues,” said Thom Niederkofler, credit asset director for Pacific Coastal Partners, which bought The Meadows Mobile Home Park and RV Park in 2016. “These six park models presented us with a rare opportunity to acquire a set of homes very quickly and we jumped at the chance.”

The homes, which sport timber ranch wood siding, are 42 feet, 8 inches long and 11 feet, 2 inches wide. They offer 391 square feet of interior space, not including the loft.

They feature a living room/dining room, stove, microwave, refrigerator and kitchen sink, hookups for washer and dryer, first-floor bedroom, nice-sized bathroom and closet space. A stairway leads to a crawl-in loft, and downstairs is a covered front porch suitable for three chairs.

The vinyl flooring is designed to look like wood and the countertops, marble.  The tiny homes include a ceiling fan and air conditioning and they’re connected to the park’s water and sewer system.

The tiny homes were built by Nashua Builders, a manufactured home builder with factories in Boise and Idaho Falls. It was Nashua Builders that built the prefab Silver Creek Hotel in Bellevue.

The Limelight has arranged to use three of the homes; Zenergy, two, and St. Luke’s, one.

A couple of Zenergy’s physical therapists are very interested in being the first tenants of Zenergy’s tiny homes, said Derek Agnew, who just celebrated his 14th anniversary as general manager of Zenergy.

“I’m really pleased. They’re even better than I had hoped for,” he said. “The location is tremendous for employees who work at Zenergy. They have a beautiful deck with great views. They’re on the bike path and, if you’re into skiing, they’re a quick drive to River Run parking lot.”

Zenergy, which employs 130 employees, lost a few last year because they couldn’t find housing that fit their budget, said Agnew. Others’ leases are coming up and they’re nervous about what that will mean, he added.

Zenergy will rent its houses and lease them to employees as transitional housing for new employees until they find long-term rental or as part of some other scenario.

John Curnow, general manager of Limelight, shared Agnew’s enthusiasm for the tiny homes. The Limelight employs 60 to 70 staff during peak times, including 12 to 15 Visa workers. The hotel has already worked with The Meadows to secure a few one- and two-bedroom homes in The Meadows Mobile Park, and this will give the hotel another option, he said.

Limelight will rent the homes, subsidizing part. It will cover the utilities and it will provide shuttle transportation to and from the hotel since the current bus schedule works to take residents of the Meadows to the hotel but it doesn’t take them home in timely fashion.

Niederkofler said Pacific Coastal Partners has long been in discussions with local employers and residents who are unable to staff their businesses because of a lack of workplace housing. The park has added 20 new manufactured homes to the Meadows during the past few years and plans to add three more in February 2022.

In addition, it has received approval to add 15 additional spaces to the RV park, bring that to 60 spaces.

“We understand we play a critical role in providing housing for the valley, and we have exciting things coming up,” he said.

Blaine County Commissioner Dick Fosbury championed efforts by Blaine County Planning and Zoning to make changes in county code that allow some spaces at the RV Park to be occupied 365 days a year. Before, they could only be occupied 180 days a year.

Historically, there have been times in the RV Park’s 50 years that winter camping was allowed, Niederkofler said.

“I’m definitely a supporter, said Fosbury. “It’s alternative housing for Blaine County—small, but self-contained and attractive looking. So, it’s appropriate for some people who need a place to go when we have such critical housing shortage.”

Harry Griffith, director of Sun Valley Economic Development agreed: “It’s a good fit—groundbreaking.  The tiny homes are near Ketchum, on the bike path and Mountain Rides route. It’s a great step forward. And it’s immediate in that people can move in soon.”

Fosbury said he hopes to invite city leaders to visit the tiny homes so they might consider places where they could place such buildings.

“I’m also working to make some more amendments in Blaine County to allow for accessory units,” he added.

Niederkofler said he is grateful to the county and local employers who believed in the park’s ability to expand operations to meet the demand.

“Also, the local contractors who come together to make these complex projects a reality. Stay tuned as this is just a small step in our plans to provide high quality workforce housing in a safe community in harmony with our neighbors,” he added.

A TRIBUTE TO STEVE

Harry Griffith said the tiny homes are a nice tribute to the late SVED Board President Steve Mills, also a  founder of Webb Landscaping.

“Four years ago, Steve pushed for the community to embrace tiny homes. He visited Nashua and he came back thinking that tiny homes were a magical solution for our community as they’re cheap and flexible,” he said. “They’re really cool, especially for people who are working on a seasonal basis.”

 

 

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