Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Condo design gets mixed review

Express Staff Writer

A 19-unit residential building in Ketchum's commercial core gained preliminary accolades from half the city's Planning and Zoning Commission, but the body's two architects expressed hesitation about the design.

The P&Z during its meeting Monday, Sept. 12, considered The Rivers' pre-application design review. The 28,853-square-foot project at 171 First Ave. S. and 131 West River St. would include two community housing units.

"We're trying to create a sense this was a warehouse or industrial building, then converted," said Stephen Pruitt, architect for applicant LBJ Partners, LLC. "There's a Western-urban look to the building."

The building is designed as a three-story structure with a flat roof. The exterior would be red clay brick. Steel and exposed I-beams would add to the industrial flavor.

"I like it," said Commissioner Greg Strong. "I like the concept. Maybe I'd like to see that fleshed out more."

Commissioner Jack Rutherford, an architect, had another opinion.

"It just doesn't grab me, frankly," he said. "The building needs to move in a more residential character."

Commission Chair Harold Johnson's concern stemmed from windows, possibly bedroom windows, located close to the street.

"I'd love to see more landscaping in front of this," he said.

Strong requested that architects review the project to see if there is a way to incorporate commercial space.

Formerly called Sierra Condominiums, the project has been renamed The Rivers. That provoked some confusion among commissioners since there are several other city projects with "river" in their names.

Owners said they could consider another name.

Project representatives will come back to the P&Z in the next month or two with modifications.

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