Wednesday, August 18, 2010

City considers agreement for hotel

Ketchum aims to ink development contract for Bald Mountain Lodge

Express Staff Writer

The Ketchum City Council on Monday started the process of forging a final development agreement with developers of the proposed Bald Mountain Lodge.

The 87-room Main Street hotel with 26 residential units has already received approval for the project itself. Now, the city is trying to finalize the detailed terms by which the project can be completed.

The planned hotel would occupy an entire city block along Main Street, between River and First streets.

The project was deemed important enough to the city's future that concessions were made in May regarding employee-housing fees to the tune of $2.76 million. In addition, a promise was given that the Ketchum Urban Renewal Agency would kick in half the property tax revenue it collected from the project up to $1.5 million to ensure the lodge's completion by January 2015.

For the contract to be fully realized, developers must apply for a building permit in 2011, start construction by June 2012 and finish building by January 2015. Developers would then be waived of $2.76 million in employee-housing fees. And the URA would give developers half the property tax revenue generated from the project, or $1.5 million, whichever is less, to pay for surrounding infrastructure such as sidewalks.

Previous deliberations over the project have stalled over the issue of 23 units of affordable housing, a city requirement for a hotel this size. But the city decided that a tighter timeline was more desirable in the end.

When those two amounts are added to the $2.36 million in community housing that the city isn't requiring, developers have a $6.6 million incentive to build by 2015.

Mayor Randy Hall said he would like to see the council "adopt this thing and see the developer on his way." The council will revisit the issue Sept. 7.

Project manager Jim Garrison said developers are steaming optimistically ahead and that he was personally evaluating the bids from three contractors. He said five reservation letters had already been received for units at the lodge, with no marketing effort at all.

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