Friday, August 14, 2009

Resort files plans for River Run

Application calls for hotel, retail and residential projects

Express Staff Writer

Sun Valley has begun the process for developing its 140-acre property at the River Run base of Bald Mountain with an application to annex the land into the city of Ketchum. The proposed development includes up to 200 luxury hotel rooms, retail space, a nature preserve and potentially more than 600 residential units. Photo by Willy Cook

Sun Valley Co. has filed an application to annex into Ketchum about 140 acres at the River Run base of Bald Mountain as part of a plan to develop the high-profile property. The proposed project would include a 150- to 200-room luxury hotel, up to 650 residential units, a spa, restaurants, a parking structure and an "ecological park."

The proposal is similar to the company's River Run master plan presented to the public in 2004.

Along with the annexation, Sun Valley Co. is applying for a planned-unit development for a 19-acre section of the property near the existing River Run Day Lodge that would include the hotel and residential units. The PUD application includes a number of waiver requests, including one to accommodate a maximum height of 110 feet for a portion of the hotel. Under Ketchum zoning, without the waiver the hotel's height would be limited to 44 feet.

Ketchum Community and Economic Development Director Lisa Horowitz said the city planning staff will look over the application during the next two weeks to ensure that it's complete. She said the first meeting on the project with the Planning and Zoning Commission is tentatively scheduled for the third week of October.

"We are very pleased to be starting this process with the Sun Valley Co.," Horowitz said. "They have a dynamite team and a thorough and thoughtful application."

Helping with the application is East West Partners, a Colorado-based development company 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 the next phase of building, architecture and massing for both properties.

The application, available for review at Ketchum City Hall, shows the boundaries of the proposed annexation, which extend from the northern edge of the upper River Run parking lot south past the confluence of Trail Creek and the Big Wood River. The conceptual site plan places the hotel almost directly across the river from the River Run Day Lodge, and includes a Big Wood River "ecological park" with interpretive signs directly to the south and four residential areas on what is now the upper parking lot.

The residential area would include multi-family condominiums and community housing. Directly south of those, on land now used for snow storage by the city, would be townhouses. In the southeast corner of the area would be large, single-family-home lots.

In all, the plan calls for 420 to 650 residential units, in addition to employee and community housing. There would also be about 35,000 square feet of retail and commercial space.

"The property is a unique opportunity to create a transformed year-round skier and recreation experience for the Bald Mountain ski area," Sun Valley Co. Director of Resort Development Wally Huffman stated in a news release Thursday. "Basic to the development proposal is the commitment by Sun Valley Co. to enhance the economics of downtown Ketchum. It is a pivotal piece of property that provides the opportunity to link the three experiences of mountain recreation, river ecology and downtown Ketchum."

Other significant features of the plan could include a roundabout at the intersection of state Highway 75 and Serenade Land, as well as reserving a route for a future gondola connection from Sun Valley to Ketchum.

The property at issue is currently in Blaine County.

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