Over the past 10 days, I visited 53 downtown retail businesses located within one and a half city blocks of the proposed Bluebird project. I personally spoke to 38 owners or managers and asked in an impartial way about their attitude toward the Bluebird. Because I wanted to speak only to an owner or manager, a number of businesses were not tabulated because they were not available.
The attitudes of the 38 businesses are that 31 (82%) are opposed and seven (18%) don’t know anything about the Bluebird or need more information to make a decision. None of the owners is in favor of the project. Typical responses to my question were that “I support the idea of affordable housing” but “this project will reduce parking,” “parking is too hard now,” “it is in the wrong location,” “it is too big,” “it is too high” or “it looks like a jail.”
While it is clear that businesses in the core area do not support the project and are concerned that the project will reduce available parking and harm their business, I also learned that nobody from the city has contacted any business owner, and the owners typically believe that the city does not listen to them.
Ketchum’s local businesses are essential to a healthy economy and to our local employment. I urge the city administration to reach out to local businesses and to listen to their concerns. A mistake with Bluebird will have decades-long, non-correctable effects on our community and on the downtown area.
With the admirable goal of providing housing subsidies to a few, the Bluebird has the potential to damage the economic situation for many.
Owner, Ketchum Kitchens
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