Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Time's a-wastin'

The Ketchum City Council faced a curve ball this week when developers of the Warm Springs Ranch Resort hotel asked to add about 30,000 square feet of structure to the project.

It's a small amount compared to the total 816,000 square feet already proposed for the hotel, townhouses, villas and employee housing. It would be confined to the same "tent" footprint approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission. Nonetheless, the council decided to send the proposed addition back to the P&Z for consideration.

Developer Stan Castleton said the additional area is needed because of calculation errors and because his investment group needs flexibility to create a hotel that can adapt to the changing demands of a market that is in flux in the wake of the national financial crisis. The "flex" space also would help satisfy requirements of luxury hotel management companies.

The remand means more time will be spent on a project introduced a year ago. It will slow down a project the Sun Valley area desperately needs if it is to become competitive in the mountain resort business again. Even so, the city is wise to dot the i's and cross the t's in its procedure.

The P&Z and city planners should avoid bogging the project down. It has plenty of other hurdles to overcome in the national financial mess.

If there's any doubt the valley is playing catch-up, Ketchum has only to look at Park City, Utah, which will see a Waldorf-Astoria and a St. Regis hotel open this spring, with another Montage luxury hotel ready to begin construction.

Time's a-wastin'.

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