Wednesday, January 21, 2009

New hotel proposal coming for Ketchum

Bald Mountain Lodge design is redrawn

Express Staff Writer

Graphic courtesy of Jim Garrison This preliminary design of the proposed Bald Mountain Lodge, which would be located on Main Street between First and River Streets in Ketchum, would include approximately 80 guest rooms, retail space, two floors of residences and an underground parking structure. The developers are looking to hold a number of public open house reviews of the project next month before the official city review begins.

Less than two years after withdrawing a hotel application from the city, owners of the former Bald Mountain Lodge site are planning to bring a revised project back to Ketchum.

On Friday, Ketchum resident and project manager Jim Garrison announced the proposal for a new hotel on the high-profile, vacant city block located on Main Street between First and River streets. Garrison is scheduled to submit the application to the city on Jan. 27.

Garrison is proposing a building with 80 high-end hotel rooms, two levels of underground parking and residential units on the top two floors. As well, there would be about 24,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor, a restaurant, bar and possibly a spa.

A rendering by Seattle-based architecture firm Callison shows that a portion of the proposed building, constructed largely out of timber and stone, would have five above-ground floors.

The site has been under consideration as a location for a new hotel for about seven years. Former owner Brian Barsotti won approval for a hotel on the site after a long, drawn-out set of negotiations with the city but then had difficulty financing the project. The property was later sold to Seattle-area developer Steve Burnstead, who developed a new plan for the site. That proposal was rescinded after negotiations for approval broke down.

In an interview, Garrison said Burnstead and co-owner Mike Kerby, having formed the company Bald Mountain Lodge LLC., were motivated to submit an application once again by the successful application from local developer Jack Bariteau for his Hotel Ketchum and by the Ketchum Planning and Zoning Commission's recommendation of approval for the proposed Warm Springs Ranch Resort.

Garrison said that unlike other businesses, such as restaurants, being first or the only one in the market is not necessarily advantageous for a hotel.

"With hotels, it helps to synchronize efforts and create a spark to get more bang for the buck," Garrison said. "There's a synergy and dynamic between hotels that a single one can't achieve on its own."

In addition to the impact of multiple marketing efforts, Garrison said that with more high-quality rooms available, guests would still be able to have a great experience in the area even if their hotel of choice is full.

Like the other hotel developers, Garrison said the state of the economy reduces the chance of beginning construction any time soon, but that with necessary approvals from the city out of the way, he would to be in a position to build when the economy turns around. Garrison estimated that permitting and construction would take about three years and cost "upwards of $50 million."

"It would be similar in size and scope to Bariteau's project," Garrison said, referring to Hotel Ketchum, which would be located on the opposite side of Main Street from the Bald Mountain Lodge.

Garrison said the owners would be partnering with hotel operator Rock Resorts, which manages hotels in numerous ski resorts, including Vail, Beaver Creek and Aspen.

"They are a very experienced and sophisticated resort operator, and will bring a lot in terms of marketing," Garrison said.

Garrison and his project management team plans to schedule two or three informal public "open house" meetings for mid-February at the Wood River Community YMCA in advance of the required reviews by the Planning and Zoning Commission and the City Council. Garrison said that if all goes well, he hopes to work through the city's entitlement process in eight to 10 months.

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