Developer Brian Barsotti on Monday
showed a new set of plans to the Ketchum Planning and Zoning Commission for his
proposed Bald Mountain Lodge on Main Street. The new plans call for a reduction
in the building’s height but approximately the same amount of square footage as
a previous plan rejected by the city. Architect’s rendering
Bald Mountain Lodge plan revived
Barsotti proposes scaled-down
version of hotel
By GREGORY FOLEY
Express Staff Writer
The Bald Mountain Lodge—the controversial
hotel proposed for 151 Main St. in Ketchum—has been redesigned after its
previous plans were rejected by the Ketchum City Council in January.
Ketchum attorney and developer Brian
Barsotti on Monday, April 28, showed a revised set of plans for the project to
Ketchum Planning and Zoning commissioners as part of a pre-application design
Essentially, Barsotti showed the design
Monday to gauge whether city officials might consider them more favorable than a
previous design that was approved by the P&Z but was turned back by the City
Council, in part because it required a waiver to accommodate its proposed
Barsotti on Monday tentatively proposed a
scaled-back version of the previous design that features three stories—rather
than four—and a roof line that reaches a maximum of 47 feet. The city height
limit for such projects is 40 feet.
Speaking before a small crowd of
approximately 30 area citizens, Barsotti told the P&Z that he wanted to find out
if the new design "is something we can go forward with."
He noted that the new design would require
fewer waivers than the original plan and would create significantly less impact
on the surrounding environment.
"We think that this is good architecture,"
Barsotti said the new design features 80
rooms, one less than the 81 originally proposed. The new plans call for
development of approximately 84,000 square feet of space, roughly the same as
the previous design.
The new plan is different primarily in
that the fourth floor shown in the previous plans—and its 12 guest rooms—have
been removed from the top of the building and relocated, mainly to the ground
floor. Consequently, a significant amount of open space originally proposed for
the ground level would be eliminated, Barsotti noted.
Commissioners offered several vague
sentiments of support for the plan, but hesitated to tell Barsotti they believe
it would be approved by the city.
"Aesthetically, I like it," said
Commissioner Greg Strong. "I liked the last one aesthetically."
Commissioner Peter Ripsom said he thought
the hotel plan met some of the key goals set forth in the city’s comprehensive
Activist Mickey Garcia showed support for
the plan and chastised its critics. He said the first hotel plan was appropriate
for the city, but was stopped by "capricious" members of the City Council. "I
don’t know what’s to say this won’t happen again," he said.
Sun Valley resident Karen Reinheimer said
she is concerned that the project might "wipe out" competing downtown hotels.
Real estate broker Tom Monge said he
believes the waivers Barsotti would need under the new plan would be "pretty
small," noting that he thinks the city ought to approve it. "I think it’s time
we recognize we are a tourist town," he said.
A small contingent of the public present
at the meeting questioned whether the hotel was needed or would be economically
viable. Commissioner Strong told the crowd that the panel should not attempt to
ascertain whether a project is economically viable.
"This is the free-market system," he said.
The previous plans for the lodge were
reviewed by the city for nearly a year before the City Council in January
unanimously voted to remand the application back to the P&Z. Councilman Randy
Hall and Councilwoman Chris Potters said the proposed building’s height must be
curbed for the project to gain approval.
Prior to the Monday meeting, Barsotti
defended the original design of the project, noting that he might have to
consider a "residential alternative" for the site if a new application for the
hotel "gets difficult."
He said the previous design and the new
design—despite their height—would have less of an imposing impact on the
surrounding area than a 40-foot straight-faced building because the upper levels
would be set back significantly. He added that because of the high cost of
commercial land in Ketchum—approximately $110 per square foot—the hotel needs to
have a specific number of rooms before it can be made profitable.
"You need some bulk, you need some size,
to offset that cost," he said.
He said rooms at the lodge will cost
approximately $350,000 each to build.
Barsotti said three other Ketchum hotels,
the Knob Hill Inn, Clarion Inn and Kentwood Lodge, if proposed today would not
meet the city’s zoning ordinance, and should therefore not be used for direct
comparison in the matter.
The developer said his studies indicate
that Ketchum needs a high-end hotel, significantly more than high-end housing
"Most cities would be bending over
backwards to help you get there," he said of the hotel proposal. "I personally
think that Ketchum is in trouble."