Friday, July 24, 2009

Resort to submit River Run plans

Annexation, development applications imminent in Ketchum


By JON DUVAL
Express Staff Writer

Sun Valley Company’s plans for the River Run area were first unveiled in 2004, when the resort said it was looking to build residential units, a four- to five-story hotel and extra parking. Photo by Mountain Express

Ketchum city officials have been informed that applications for the annexation and development of Sun Valley Co.'s River Run property should arrive early next week.

Ketchum Mayor Randy Hall said the applications are tentatively scheduled to come before the Ketchum Planning and Zoning Commission and City Council in a series of meetings this fall. Sun Valley Resort officials hope to have the applications approved by January 2010, Hall said.

"This is a landmark project for the city of Ketchum," Hall said. "We've never seen anything like this that could have such a significant impact on the city."

Hall's words were not meant as hyperbole. Sun Valley Co. owns 160 acres at River Run, at the eastern base of Bald Mountain. Last November, representatives of Sun Valley Co. met with the council and P&Z in a public workshop to go over the resort's master plan for the land. Included were a hotel, condominiums, workforce housing, townhouses, a parking structure, community park and possible nature preserve.

At that meeting, Becky Zimmerman, president of Design Workshop, the Denver-based resort-planning firm contracted by Sun Valley Co., said that approximately half of the property is suitable for development, with the remainder either protected wetlands or within the city's protected hillside zone.

Plans for the property were first unveiled in 2004, when the resort said it was looking to build 478 residential units, a four- to five-story hotel and parking for 1,500 cars.

Ketchum Community and Economic Development Director Lisa Horowitz said the forthcoming application would likely be light on architectural aspects of the project, instead focusing on the uses of the different areas within the property. A planned-unit-development application would be necessary for portions of the property, such as the location of the hotel, which would exceed the city's allowable building restrictions in height or density.

In addition to Design Workshop, the resort is getting help on the project from East West Partners. That Colorado-based development company was hired in March to review the resort's conceptual plans for its River Run property, as well as the White Clouds residential development on Trail Creek Road in Sun Valley. According to Sun Valley Co., East West Partners will advise the resort on next phase of building, architecture and massing for both properties.

East West Partners has developments in Lake Tahoe, Calif., Denver, Colo., and Vail, Colo, as well as Deer Valley, Utah, Charleston, S.C., and Summit County, Colo., which is home to the Breckenridge, Keystone, Arapahoe Basin and Copper Mountain ski resorts.

In advance of the application, members of the Ketchum City Council were introduced to the development team, who, along with Sun Valley Director of Resort Development Wally Huffman, explained the basic idea of the development. The development team met with some council members individually and others in pairs.

Councilman Larry Helzel said the meetings did not contain any back-and-forth discussion of the project, so as to comply with the state's open meeting laws, but were a chance for city officials to become familiar with the players before the public hearings begin.

Helzel said the overview of the project he received was very positive and showed some differences compared to what was presented last year. Helzel said that one major addition was a focus on the environment.

"I saw a lot of good changes compared to what we had originally seen," Helzel said. "It's relatively low-density and low-impact. From my point of view, it's all good so far."

Jon Duval: jduval@mtexpress.com




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