Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Taking it down a notch

Warm Springs Ranch Resort lowers height of proposed hotel

Express Staff Writer

The newest design of the proposed Warm Springs Ranch Resort features a five-story hotel, as opposed to the six-floor structure in the previous plan. The decreased height also led to some significant changes, including removal of a number of townhomes to make room for another hotel wing. Photo by

It would still be the tallest building in Ketchum, but it's likely that the latest incarnation of the Warm Springs Ranch Resort will find a more favorable reception at upcoming public hearings.

After numerous meetings at which both members of the public and the Ketchum Planning and Zoning Commission voiced concerns about the height of the proposed resort's hotel, the developers removed the top floor in their 10th and latest design of the project.

Park City-based development company DDRM Greatplace submitted a revised design of its 77-acre resort to the city on Monday, May 12, one week after the deadline due to a death in the family of owner Stan Castleton.

"Although we know we will not be able to please everyone, we have offered an additional approach to the Warm Springs Ranch design, which lowers the main hotel building by one story, removes a portion of the townhome product and lowers the overall square footage of the project," Castleton stated in a press release distributed by the city on Monday.

In this scheme, the removed sixth floor would be relocated to a new wing attached to the southeast corner of the building and constructed in a separate phase. This wing would eliminate the townhomes previously planned to sit next to Warm Springs Creek, and would contain either four or five stories of condominium suites and residential units.

"The city is delighted that the developer made these accommodations on the height based on the public comment and commission's request," city Senior Planner Nathan Warren said.

As well, the new design would see the elimination of three attached townhomes to the west of the Warm Springs Restaurant, reducing the total number of townhomes from 27 to 18.

The restaurant would be located further west in relation to the hotel, accessed by another wing that was not in the previous design, and would benefit from better views up and down the creek.

In all, the new design would mean the addition of one condominium suite, considered a "hot" unit as it would be part of the hotel's rental pool, and four "cold" residential units. However, the total number of "cold" units would be reduced with the subtraction of nine townhomes. The number of hotel rooms would remain at 75.

Other features, such as the 3,400-square-foot events house, the nine-hole golf course, villas and estate lots are the same as in the previous design.

Castleton emphasized that the revised plan is not the developer's preferred scenario, by stating in a letter to the city on Monday that it provides a less-efficient layout to operate a five-star hotel. In addition, he said the new design would put more density around the creek, as well as the spa and pool area, and the increased size of the hotel would have a larger impact on the adjacent neighborhoods.

Castleton said this is still a conceptual idea and that further details would be worked out in the design review process.

The project is in the planned-unit development application process, in which its scale and shape are in front of the commission for a positive or negative recommendation to the City Council.

Despite the week's delay, Ketchum Economic and Community Development Director Lisa Horowitz said the planning staff would complete its report on the new design by May 27.

With three public hearings set for June 10, 11 and 12, Horowitz said the staff and applicant are working on adding one more public hearing before then to give the public an opportunity to ask questions on the new design.

The commission is schedule to make a final decision on the project on June 19.

In other Ketchum news, the Planning and Zoning Commission approved a modification to the building to be constructed at 260 First Ave. N., which was previously approved for design review.

The mixed-use building, which will contain workforce and market-rate housing, as well as retail space, will sit directly west of the Copper Ridge building on Washington Avenue. Project developers the Justen Co. changed the design of the fourth floor to bring it in line with setback requirements.

While the commission members expressed appreciation of the new design, which slightly reduces the square footage of the top floor and breaks up the elevations around the entire building, the project is still opposed by KGF Development, the owners of Copper Ridge. KGF is in litigation over the legality of the city's transfer-of-development-rights ordinance, which was used by the Justen Co. to build a fourth floor.

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