Friday, May 11, 2007

New hotel to be unveiled Monday

Plans for 200-plus-room structure to go before P&Z

Express Staff Writer

Rendering courtesy Michael Blash & Associates The Gateway Hotel is a 200,000-square-foot, 200-room hotel that could be built at the corner of Main and Rivers streets in Ketchum. The Ketchum Planning and Zoning Commission will take a look at the proposal on Monday, May 14.

It's been two years in the making, but Monday will be the coming out party for developers proposing a huge new hotel in Ketchum.

The 200,000-square-foot, 200-plus-room hotel, called The Gateway Hotel, would be built at the corner of Main and Rivers streets on six lots bought during a three-year span. The Ketchum Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a pre-application design review hearing on the hotel at its Monday, May 14, meeting. The meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m. in City Hall.

The five properties are owned by a group of investors, collectively Saratoga Partners & Kooweerup LLC. Matt Cosgriff, an agent with Sotheby's International Realty, is one of the project partners and is taking the lead on communications activities.

"It's been a long process to get to this point," he said. "We have a team of local architects and out-of-state hotel experts, an experienced developer who's done several projects larger than this, and we are fully funded."

The developers are proposing five stories on Rivers Street, but because the lots slopes down toward Trail Creek, another two stories would step down toward the creek while the building's roofline would also step down.


Architect Michael Blash designed the building so that it would appear to be separate buildings incorporating different styles, Cosgriff said. The southern end of the building, which would front Trail Creek along Highway 75, would appear to have a smaller scale. The main building fronting Rivers Street would be more urban in character.

"We feel strongly that the city, the people, are going to welcome it," Cosgriff said. "It would be good for the economy, for business, for retail. It'll be a high-end, service-oriented hotel."

It would include a day spa, signature restaurant, and 7,000 to 8,000 square feet of retail space.

The overall size and height of the building are not lost on Consgriff. He said the developers are "extremely sensitive" to the fact that people don't want to see height and density in downtown Ketchum, but he said size and height close to what is being proposed is what it will take to make it economically feasible.

"There's just no question. That's what it's going to take," he said.

Specifics will be contingent on room sizes and overall building density, but fractional ownership is anticipated. Workforce housing has also been taken into consideration.

"We do have a housing plan in place consisting of new and existing housing," Cosgriff said. "There's going to be a lot of give and take, and a lot of figuring out."

The investors have lined up a "major, worldwide" hotelier to operate and market the facility should it be built. The name of that operator may be disclosed at the Monday meeting.

"We're a resort, and we don't have a destination hotel," Cosgriff said. "We feel strongly that the city needs a destination hotel, or two, or three. If the city approves it with enough rooms to make it work economically, this thing will be built, and quickly. It's the real deal."

The city has been courting hotel developers for several years, and up to nine proposals are pending. Three, including The Gateway, are proposed for the intersection of Main and Rivers streets. Another is proposed at the Simplot property in West Ketchum. One is proposed in Warm Springs Village, and still another at Warm Springs Ranch. Sun Valley Co. may propose up to two hotels, at the River Run and Warm Springs base areas of Bald Mountain.

Ketchum has formed a hotel study committee, consisting of several consultants. The committee is focusing on potential hotels throughout the city, but is focusing in particular on the southern "gateway" to the city at the intersection of Main and Rivers.

Consultant Nore Winter, of Boulder, Colo.-based Winter & Co., is conducting site modeling for the hotel sites there.

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