Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Changes in store for Main Street

Wells Fargo proposes bank to replace doomed Ketchum visitor center

Express Staff Writer

Major changes are in store for one of downtown Ketchum?s most-visible street corners.

The city-owned parcel at the corner of Main and Fourth streets, the longtime site of the Sun Valley-Ketchum Chamber & Visitors Bureau, will be cleared in the next week to make room for a new local headquarters for Wells Fargo Bank.

Ketchum City Administrator Ron LeBlanc said Tuesday that a deal to transfer ownership of the city parcel at 411 N. Main St. to Wells Fargo will be finalized Nov. 15.

The city is trading the Main Street parcel for a piece of vacant Wells Fargo-owned land on Fourth Street between Leadville and East avenues, across from Giacobbi Square.

Pursuant to the land-trade agreement, the city must clear the Main Street parcel and pay Wells Fargo approximately $148,000, the difference between the appraised values of the two properties.

LeBlanc said the city this week would commence demolition of the Chamber visitor center, as well as the old Ketchum City Hall that sits on the west side of the site.

The Chamber has already relocated its visitor-center operations to a leased site in the Copper Ridge building, on Washington Avenue.

The city has not determined how it will develop its new parcel. Mayor Ed Simon said he envisions developing the site as a public park with underground parking.

Meanwhile, Wells Fargo representatives this week proposed to the Ketchum Planning and Zoning Commission an approximately 10,000-square-foot bank building to be located on the Main Street site.

In a so-called ?pre-application design review??which allows developers to garner feedback on a project before a formal application is submitted?architects for Wells Fargo on Monday presented conceptual plans for a two-story brick building that would be significantly smaller than what could be allowed on the site.

Mark Pynn, one of two architects representing Wells Fargo, said he believes the decision to build a structure that would be smaller than some others on Main Street is ?a generous move on the part of the bank.?

Commissioners showed general support for the design, with an understanding that it would ultimately include a public bus shelter for passengers of Ketchum Area Rapid Transit and the Peak Bus commuter system.

Ketchum resident Mickey Garcia rapped the development team for not proposing any affordable housing.

?You?re killing the town with buildings like this,? he said. ?It adds to the sterility of the town.?

Wells Fargo representatives said they would seek to refine some aspects of the plan before submitting a formal application.

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