Friday, April 6, 2007

?Big? hotels not a quick fix

The Ketchum mayor and City Council are to be commended for their principled stand on huge structures on Main Street. They are not opposed to big hotels. Just not on the old Bald Mountain Lodge block. Just across the street from there would be OK, per the rules that have been set up. They are trying to maintain a character and feel for Main Street.

Compare the "competition." Main Street in Aspen, Colo.; Colorado Avenue (the main street) in Telluride, Colo.; and Lincoln Avenue (the main street) in Steamboat Springs, Colo., all have buildings no higher than three floors. The Hotel Jerome on Main Street in Aspen is three floors high, has 92 rooms, and is very high-end at $850 per night. It sits on a lot only 80 percent the size of the Main Street, Bald Mountain Lodge square-city-block lot, and one-third of its lot is ground-level open space and gardens. But, if you like "big" buildings all over the streets, go to Vail.

In Ketchum, the rampant development of condominiums, townhouses, and such has pretty much run its course. There is a huge inventory of unsold properties. The developers/speculators/promoters are desperate to find new sources of huge profits from development. They have glommed onto a new development: politically correct "hotels," condominiumized hotels. But they have no interest in the long term; just build it, sell it, and they're out of here.

Others have been swept up into this hotel mania as being the source of the manna of hordes of money-spending tourists. Doomster's blogs and letters decry that Ketchum is moribund, on death's doorstep. Ketchum needs lots more bodies roaming the streets, who, in turn, need more nightlife, restaurants and bars. Well, more liquor licenses aren't available, and developers kill restaurants; remember Louie's, Evergreen, and Warm Springs Ranch?

But all is not lost! There is an easy solution to resurrect life. The Ketchum City Council should just mandate that within two years, all the deep-pockets Main Street and Sun Valley Road banks must convert and operate three-quarters of their street-level floor-area as shops, restaurants, boutiques, and bars—but not real estate offices. Then let the good times roll.

Milton Adam

Sun Valley

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