Friday, July 20, 2007

Gateway four-star hotel design reviewed

Boomers fuel hotel-condo nationwide trend

Express Staff Writer

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Ketchum's quest to get heads on pillows and fresh tourist faces on our streets will take another step next week when plans for a major hotel get their first official consideration in the public arena.

A group called the Trail Creek Fund LLC will go before the Ketchum Planning and Zoning Commission on Monday, July 23, for design review of its proposed four-story hotel and condominiums at Highway 75 and River Street in Ketchum. Trail Creek Village currently occupies that location.

Drawings and plans for the 73-room Hotel Ketchum were submitted to the city as part of the city's pre-application process. The hotel would include six rooftop penthouse condominiums on the fourth floor, a meeting room that could accommodate up to 350 people, a full-service, 5,500-square-foot spa as well as a restaurant, bar and dining room, said Trail Creek Fund managing member Jack Bariteau.

"The focus is creating a four-star complex," he said. "It means bringing that quality of service and amenities to Ketchum."

Rooms at the Hotel Ketchum will range in size from 475 to 900 square-feet.

At a June 26 Ketchum City Council meeting, during a discussion of the Gateway Massing Study on what proposed hotels would look like and what shade impacts they would have, Bariteau told the council that the hotel planning process required flexibility.

"We are going to be proposing a building that is higher than permitted in your tourist zone because we have to (because of the economics)," Bariteau said.

This week, Bariteau said in an interview that there was "no guarantee" his group would get what it wants but that city codes allow for that flexibility.

"We are making every attempt to keep it as low as possible," he said.

The hotel would have two levels of underground parking and the whole complex is a complicated project, he added.

"I think we have a progressive design," Bariteau said. "I think we are bringing in a positive proposal for them to review."

Bariteau and his partner bought the Trail Creek property in 2004.

Typically at pre-application sessions, an applicant would make design changes based on commission comments and return for a final design review, said city planner Beth Robrahn.

Bariteau has developed several mixed-use, office-retail projects in Ketchum over the past 10 years, but this is his first hotel. He is partnered with Piazza Hotels, whose owner, Paolo Patrone, developed and runs the Hotel Healdsburg in California's Sonoma Valley, Bariteau said in a telephone interview from his Palo Alto, Calif., office. The Piazza Group is part of Trail Creek Fund LLC, he said.

The Hotel Ketchum, with its luxury amenities and condo suites, appears to mirror national trends in which baby boomers, done with diaper changing and soccer mommying, opt for urban, downtown luxury digs.

"In society fiction, 1930s-era movies, and real life, a group of wealthy individuals has long enjoyed the privileges that come with living at the finest hotels," writes architect Mark Hornberger in the architecture magazine "Multifamily Trends." He is one-half of Hornberger + Worstell, the San Francisco-based architects for the hotel.

Bariteau agreed the hotel-condo phenomenon is big and growing in places such as New York, San Francisco, Miami, Aspen and Vail.

"It is certainly a trend," he said. "Many of the big hotels ... are doing only projects with provisions for condo units linked and tied to hotels."

The reason is economics.

"These (hotel) projects are so costly to build that residential penthouses bring the cost of overall development down," Bariteau said.

Denver attorney Jacques Machol paid $735,000 in 2005 for his 1,100-square-foot suite at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach, according to a 2005 article on the trend in the Chicago Sun-Times. Machol can avail himself of room service, housekeeping and linen service. And that's part of the appeal for condo owners, Bariteau said.

"That is very attractive for them," he said, adding that condo owners can also use hotel shopping services for things like groceries and clothes. Machol rents his Miami condo through the hotel and gets 45 percent of what the hotel can rent it for. Penthouse suite owners at the Ketchum Hotel will be able to do the same, Bariteau said.

It's yet unknown how much the Hotel Ketchum condos would sell for, Bariteau said. He said they will range in size from 1,700 to 2,500 square feet. In places like Aspen, hotel-condo units can sell for as much as $2,000 a square foot, he said.

The same demographic that drives the real estate market also shapes this trend, Hornberger writes. That would be the baby boomers.

"Urban downtowns are newly attractive to couples that no longer have children at home and are ready to relinquish the long commutes and high-maintenance houses that are part of a suburban lifestyle," Hornberger writes.

The post-war baby boomers are those born between 1946 and 1964. As of July 1, 2005, there were 78.2 million boomers and on each day of 2006, 7,918 boomers, or 330 each hour, turned 60 years old, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The Hotel Healdsburg in Sonoma Valley has 55 rooms and suites, some with six-foot soaking tubs, French doors and private balconies. It bills itself, on its Web site, as being the ideal location for romantic getaways or company meetings. It has a pool and gardens and dining in former New York chef Charlie Palmer's Dry Creek Kitchen. The hotel made "Conde Nast Traveler" magazine's top 100 hotels Reader's Choice list in 2004 and 2007.

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