Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Picture of Warm Springs Ranch becomes clearer

Developers give Ketchum Council tour of site

Express Staff Writer

Courtesy graphic The developers of the proposed Warm Springs Ranch Resort presented a new design, featuring a number of minor changes including a parking level fully underground. The council visited the site to get a better idea of the 93-foot maximum height planned for the hotel.

Ketchum officials once again headed to the site of the proposed Warm Springs Ranch Resort, with the City Council getting its first opportunity at an up-close look at the 78-acre parcel.

On Tuesday afternoon, the development team for Park City-based DDRM Greatplace used a crane, large balloon and large renderings on transparent sheets to give the most comprehensive presentation of the plan to date.

Beginning at a vacant lot on Flower Drive, which sits on the opposite side of Warm Springs Road from the planned entrance to the resort's luxury hotel, the City Council, along with a dozen members of the public, were able to see how the hotel would sit upon the site.

From that position, the rendering showed that the ground floor would not be fully visible, as it would be located six feet below the grade of Warm Springs Road. As well, the top floor would be within a sloping roof, which would have a maximum height of 93 feet, demarcated by a flag attached to a crane at the northern end and a large balloon at the southern end of the hotel site.

The building would have nine floors, according to the latest design, dubbed scheme 11, including one level of parking completely underground and two levels below Warm Springs Road.

At a City Council meeting the previous evening, the developer's local design team member Dale Bates and lead architect Mark Philp explained that restrictions in the "tent concept" were negotiated with the Planning and Zoning Commission over the summer. The commission subsequently approved the project's planned-unit development application in July.

That would confine the uppermost floor to 15 percent of the total footprint, which would be around 130,000 square feet. As well, it requires that the roofline step down, helping break the hotel into blocks of varied size so it doesn't feature massive facades.

The top five floors would feature a mix of hotel rooms, fractional ownership units, condominium suites and penthouse residences.

In previous designs, the hotel had 75 traditional hotel rooms, considered "hot beds," and about 75 more rooms that could potentially be added to the rental pool, known as "warm beds."

However, Stan Castleton, CEO of DDRM Greatplace, said his firm is looking into ways of increasing the number of hot beds, as the dearth of hotel rooms in Ketchum has been much lamented by city officials.

The new design was the first to feature a level completely underground, and DDRM Project Director Chuck Klingenstein said that would be used for increased meeting space, an amenity that hospitality specialists PKF Consultants have deemed necessary.

The developers have promised to present the council with data from PKF that explains how the resort's size and amenities are determined by financial requirements. In addition to a five-star hotel, the resort would feature a spa, events house, nine-hole golf course, town homes and two estate lots.

A number of the council members applauded the developer's presentation of the project at Monday's meeting, which included three-dimensional computer generated graphics. They offered little in the way of opinions, however, and stayed away from comments on the design, with the exception of Councilman Charles Conn.

"Please save us from another Tyrolean beast," Conn said.

The council was set to hold a second meeting on the height and mass of the hotel Tuesday evening, which was to go into further details of the design.

While participation of the public has been limited thus far to questions regarding bulk and mass, people will get their chance to comment during public hearings set for early December.

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