The Hailey Planning and Zoning Commission on Tuesday unanimously approved a rezoning application that, if finalized by the City Council in February, will allow a local developer to convert a former residential care facility into dormitories.
Northridge developer Mark Caplow hopes to repurpose the former Silvercreek Assisted Living buildings on McKercher Boulevard into staff housing, project representative Samantha Stahlnecker told P&Z Tuesday.
The two-building, 32-room facility at the city’s north entrance opened in 2017 and was officially shut down in April 2022 after hiring issues. It has been used as temporary housing ever since, according to Anita Northwood, who co-owns the buildings with Caplow.
Northwood said those currently residing at Silvercreek come from a variety of backgrounds. Several families, some with children, were living there as of this week, she said.
“It’s quite a broad spectrum, a mixed population — traveling nurses from St. Luke’s and air traffic controllers,” she said.
To convert the building into staff housing, Caplow filed an application with the city requesting that the 2.2-acre Silvercreek lot be rezoned from “Limited Residential 1” to “Limited Business.”
Hailey’s “Limited Residential 1” district allows residential care facilities and multi-family housing at a density of 10 units per acre. The “Limited Business” neighborhood allows for a much wider range of activities, such as nurseries, gyms, restaurants and offices. The business zone also allows 20 multi-family homes per acre.
In its current configuration, the property has two 12,300-square-foot buildings, each containing 16 one-bedroom residential apartments with a commercial kitchen. All units have mini-fridges and microwaves, and both community kitchens have stoves, full-size refrigerators, ovens, and pantry space.
Northwood, who plans to continue to manage rental units as the rezone goes ahead, said the rent is currently $1,500 a month for a studio unit of “280 to 300 square feet,” and that rate would remain after the rezone.
Mary Fauth, director of the Blaine County Charitable Fund, told the P&Z on Tuesday that the Silvercreek facility essentially functions as emergency housing and should continue to be used that way “on a permanent basis.”
Fauth added that Northwood and Caplow “allow several individuals to settle down and live together” in Silvercreek to earn $1,500 in rent, which she says is around market price.
“What Anita charges … is equal to or a little less” than the Blaine County market rate for a studio apartment, Fauth said.
She also told the P&Z that the organization recently moved seven households into one of the Silvercreek buildings after she and about 100 other individuals lost temporary hotel rooms. Those households will join “injured individuals who need ADA access, people who lost their homes last year, and newcomers who are working and have their income verified,” she said.
(The Charitable Fund provides rent assistance to those who can’t earn the full $1,500, she said, paying the difference between 30% of a household’s recent gross monthly income and monthly rent.)
Commissioner Dustin Stone said he thought the building’s current use was “perfect” and was concerned about current tenants being “thrown out by tenants”.
“This really feels like an emergency,” he said.
According to Community Development Director Robyn Davis, the facility’s current temporary use is “not allowed” in Hailey’s Limited Residential zone. Hailey’s staff had been “talking all the time about emergency housing,” she said, but concluded that Hailey’s city code doesn’t allow it.
“The current housing situation in Silvercreek resembles that of a multifamily home, which is not allowed within the LR-1 zoning plan,” she told the Express.
City manager Lisa Horowitz wrote via email Thursday that Hailey’s interim housing policy, passed by the Hailey City Council, “does not address homelessness.”
“We made a commitment to our constituents to address staff housing for those who live and work in Hailey as our primary housing target,” she wrote.
On Tuesday, Stahlnecker said the need for emergency housing is “massive and will continue to grow” in Blaine County, but said a dorm would be best suited for the building.
“Large employers like the Valley Club and St. Luke’s could invest in a project like this and provide more affordable units for their employees,” she said.
According to real estate agent Paul Kenny of Kenny-Bogue Real Estate and Valley Club attorney Jim Laski, The Valley Club even has an eye on building housing for workers in Hailey.
Kenny-Bogue Real Estate put the Silvercreek building on the market for about $7 million five months ago, according to the company’s website and the Multiple Listing Service.
In September, Kenny told the Express that the Valley Club, as well as Sun Valley Co., St. Luke’s, the Limelight Hotel and the Wood River Community Housing Trust had expressed interest in the property, and that Kenny-Bogue had made an “offer” . in hand.”
“The prospects are many,” said Kenny at the time.
Last week, the Valley Club was successful in petitioning the city council to change the city code to allow “golf courses and recreational facilities” to provide employee housing in Hailey’s limited business and business destination districts.
Until then, the club was prohibited from building employee housing anywhere else except in the recreational greenbelt zone – an area that runs along the hill east of Old Cutters, follows the Toe of the Hill Trail through southern Woodside, and sports fields and recreational areas. trails, but little else.
The council agreed to delete that provision and waived two further readings of the requested code change at the suggestion of Council President Kaz Thea.
“I consider the Valley Club one of our most important employer partners. They have many full-time and a significant number of seasonal employees to house and hire [housing] very seriously,” Horowitz said at the time.
On Tuesday, Commissioner Sage Sauerbrey said he was concerned that a new buyer could demolish the buildings if the zoning change for limited businesses goes ahead.
“This site could be sold and all of these potential homes converted into offices,” he said.
Both Stahlnecker and Kenny responded that it would be “unlikely” that the buildings would be demolished given the value of the buildings themselves.
Sauerbrey also objected to the expected rent, which he considered “very high”.
Northwood replied that utilities, internet and laundry are included.
“That can make a huge difference in the life of a single person or a family,” she said.
Human Resources Commissioner Owen Scanlon said he had reservations about the facility’s cramped living spaces.
“When you go to college, you’re about the same age and there for the same purpose and don’t mind sharing kitchens,” Scanlon said. “But to say [working] people in there… it’s going to be an interesting study in human relationships.”
Speaking on behalf of Caplow, Stahlnecker said there is an immediate need for additional housing.
“The housing situation in the valley is extremely bad right now,” she said. Citing projections from the Blaine County Housing Authority, “there is a need for 4,700 to 6,400 units over the next 10 years to meet demand in Blaine County,” she told the P&Z.
Despite concerns about cost, space, and the potential eviction of tenants, the commissioners admitted that the city needed to find a legal solution to the unviable Silvercreek settlement. They also approved a request from Caplow to allow “co-living residences” in Hailey’s limited business and corporate destination districts, and define a “co-living residence” as “a building” with multiple private living areas, at least one shared kitchen, and at least one shared living space.”
(The Silvercreek units do not meet the definition of “multi-family unit” because they do not have kitchen facilities.)
“The proposed text change to allow co-living housing within the Limited Business and Business zoning districts will provide more diverse housing options that other residential zones, such as Limited Residential, do not currently offer or allow,” explained Davis.
The committee approved the “co-living home” text change on Tuesday — along with an occupancy requirement of four people per unit and a parking requirement of 38 spaces — and forwarded it to the city council for approval.
“We wanted to find something consistent with what the city code allows in similar areas, and looked at the downtown residential overlay model of a [parking] space per bedroom and one guest loft for every six bedrooms,” Stahlnecker said of the parking need.
Currently, there are 19 existing stalls on the property — enough to rent out one building, she said. She added that the buildings’ porches could be adapted to provide more parking, and part of the land off Cranbrook Road could also be used for parking.
“The applicant is willing to work with the city to ensure only 16 units are leased until additional parking improvements are made at the site to provide parking for up to 32 units,” she said.
Stahlnecker also told the P&Z she expected an increase in traffic if the buildings were repurposed. While it’s hard to pin down an exact figure, she said the new housing would generate about 132 more vehicle trips per day than the previous residential care facility, according to an analysis by traffic engineer Ryan Hales.
According to a Jan. 4 letter from Boise-based Clear Solutions Engineering, the new use of staff housing would not increase overall water use because new residents would “spend more time outside the facility each day compared to the former residents.”
Stahlnecker said the proposed renovation project in Silvercreek would be in conjunction with construction of Caplow’s “40 McKercher” project — an upcoming three-story, 44-unit apartment building that was approved by the P&Z last September. That apartment building will go up immediately south of the Silvercreek Building starting this summer, she said.