Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Barsotti makes case to fix hotel ordinance


By REBECCA MEANY
Express Staff Writer

Fractional ownership of hotel units is part of the answer to revitalizing the Warm Springs base of Bald Mountain, according to one developer, but that option is not allowed under Ketchum city code.

Brian Barsotti spoke to the Ketchum City Council Tuesday, Jan. 17, about the waning vitality of Warm Springs Village in northwest Ketchum.

"At the time of the (hotel) ordinance, fractionals were a relatively new concept, so at the time, everyone was opposed to them because they didn't have a room tax," he said. But, "you have to be in front of the curve, and see what the trends are. You don't see hotels being built now without a (fractional) component."

The council approved the final plat request last week to subdivide into 17 units—16 condos and one commercial—in the building 308 Skiway Drive, commonly known as Eagle Crest Vacation Club and previously called Lift Haven Inn.

Barsotti, owner of Bald Mountain Lodge LLC, said that although the approval allows him to sell the building as condos, he has no immediate plans to do so.

"We're not going to actively market this right now," he said.

Barsotti is an outspoken proponent of overhauling the city's hotel ordinance, not just to allow fractional ownership, but to increase the allowable size of units.

Without such changes, Barsotti said, hotels and other tourist-related businesses will continue to be hit hard during shoulder seasons. As a result, he maintains, the whole economic vitality of an area suffers.

Councilman Baird Gourlay, co-owner of Paul Kenny's Ski & Sports in Warm Springs Village, agreed that the area struggles during off-season.

"We survive, but it's not an easy environment," he said. "At some point, we're going to have to make a decision (on what to do), like we're doing in the downtown core."

The city has focused its efforts on downtown revitalization. It contracted with an economic development consultant to help formulate a downtown master plan, and it enacted a moratorium on certain types of residential development applications in the commercial core, deeming them detrimental to a thriving economic scene.




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