Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Business Briefs

Group inks contract for hotel

Higher Ground, formerly Sun Valley Adaptive Sports, is under contract to buy the Knob Hill Inn in Ketchum.

Higher Ground founder and Chief Executive Tom Iselin said the organization has until Sept. 15 to raise enough money to complete the sale. The group has a fundraising goal of $10 million to buy the luxury hotel, build a conference center addition, improve access for the disabled and cover the first year of programs and operating costs.

The Knob Hill Inn is a Relais & Chateaux destination hotel with fine dining and accommodations. It remains open for business under direction of the Koenig family.

Even with bankruptcy, Aspen is pricey

ASPEN, Colo. (MTN)—Another bankruptcy has made the news in Aspen, though it remains a very expensive sort of place.

The owner of a trio of parcels in the downtown has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. At the height of the real estate boom, the parcels had been advertised for $41.5 million. The price now is $28 million.

It was the third time since March that a landlord in downtown Aspen has filed for bankruptcy, notes The Aspen Times, though in one case the judge rejected the petition.

But elsewhere comes news that a spec home near Aspen completed last year has sold for $24.5 million. The 13,000-square-foot house sits on about nine acres.

And then there are the 19 units of affordable housing that the local school district expects to complete by Sept. 1—after the school year has started. School officials have budgeted $19,000 to put up teachers and in some cases their families at a local hotel for a month.

Got ideas for 75th season events?

The Sun Valley Chamber & Visitors Bureau is seeking ideas for Sun Valley Resort's 75th anniversary, which it will celebrate during the 2010-11 season. The chamber is looking for all events taking place between November 2010 and December 2011.

Businesses should contact Gina at with the name of the event, date, a one-sentence description, website and phone number.

Bluebird Day Café opens in Ketchum

Proprietors BJ and Ryan Sullivan and Tom Nickel have opened the Bluebird Day Café on Main Street in Ketchum, adjacent to the Clarion Inn. The Bluebird features an eclectic menu for breakfast and lunch with affordable pricing. Several menu items are under $10.

Nickel is also an owner of Ketchum's Roosevelt Grille and Tavern and The Sawtooth Club, as well as The Brickhouse restaurant in Bellevue.

The café is open seven days a week for breakfast from 7:30-11 a.m. and for lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. For details, call 928-6410.


Gretchen's features new chef

James Cameron Welch is the new head chef for Gretchen's restaurant in the Sun Valley Lodge. Welch will bring his classic French and Southwestern techniques to Gretchen's for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Originally from Ancon, Panama, Welch attended the Institute of Art in Denver and was a James Beard Chef in 2008 and a chef and instructor for Chef's Catalog in Colorado Springs, making regular appearances on Colorado network television. Welch worked as sous chef at The Valley Club, and was food and beverage director and executive chef at the Elkhorn Golf Club.

5BBQ opens doors in Bellevue

5BBQ, the only restaurant serving low-and-slow, fruitwood-smoked barbecue in Blaine County, is now open in Bellevue at 110 N. Main St. Proprietor and pit master Damon Drougas was trained by Mike Mills, three-time champion at the annual Memphis in May festival.

5BBQ serves Memphis dry-rub ribs, Texas brisket, pulled pork, chicken and sausages smoked in an Ole Hickory Pit served with house recipe sauces and traditional sides. It offers indoor and outdoor dining plus take-away.

Eco-Pest adds To offerings

Eco-Pest, a local "green" pest management company based in Hailey, has added the Leaf Defier Gutter Protection System and gutter cleaning service to its product and service offerings. The Leaf Defier keeps gutters clog-free and clear of leaves, seeds, pine needles, insects, ice and snow and other debris.

Webb opens 'living store' in Hailey

Wood River Valley-based Webb Garden Center has opened a new Hailey Living Store at 417 N. Main St. The store is open every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Webb also maintains "living stores" in Ketchum and on Glendale Road south of Bellevue. The Bellevue location is Webb's main nursery property.

Economy starting to grow again?

According to the summer issue of Zions Bank's Insight—Economic News of Idaho and the Nation, released last week, Idaho's economy is returning to growth mode, following one of its most painful recessions since the Great Depression.

"Idaho's expected economic recovery should be consistent with similar recoveries among many states," said Jeff Thredgold, economic consultant to Zions Bank and author of Insight. "Barring additional negative U.S. or global economic developments, Idaho economic growth is expected to strengthen throughout 2011, with stronger growth in 2012."

The report highlights examples of the state's return to economic growth:

· Idaho's unemployment rate has declined for three consecutive months, with May's seasonally adjusted 9.0 percent rate an improvement over recent months.

· Total Idaho employment is down 4,600 jobs from a year ago, a shadow of the more serious decline nine to 12 months ago.

· Idaho's goods-producing sector remains its weakest, even as the data continue to improve.

· A rebound in Idaho home values is likely to trail developments in many U.S. markets, with much of the weakness to be found in Idaho's more urban communities.

Sales of foreclosed homes up

BOISE, Idaho (AP)—The sale of foreclosed properties in Idaho increased in the first three months of this year, as banks started foreclosing on homes whose owners had defaulted on their loans.

Foreclosure tracking firm RealtyTrac says the sale of Idaho properties in default, scheduled for auction or bank-owned increased 67 percent in the first quarter of this year, compared to the first three months of 2009.

Broker Liam Spencer of Boise told The Idaho Statesman that banks had a backlog of loans in default that they have since started processing.

RealtyTrac says Idaho had 2,833 foreclosure filings in April and 2,075 in May. The firm says homes sold in foreclosure in Idaho went for average discounts of 7 percent in Idaho, compared to 27 percent nationwide.

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