Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Knob Hill Inn deal falls through

Higher Ground not able to raise $10 million needed for purchase and improvements


By TREVON MILLIARD
Express Staff Writer

The Knob Hill Inn, in northern Ketchum, remains open despite being for sale at a reduced price of $7.8 million. Photo by Willy Cook

Plans have fallen through for making the Knob Hill Inn one of the nation's largest rehabilitation and retreat facilities for wounded veterans outside of a medical setting.

Tom Iselin, chief executive of veteran rehabilitation organization Higher Ground, announced Monday that the group won't be buying the Ketchum hotel. He said Higher Ground failed to raise the $10 million needed for buying the hotel and covering the costs of renovating it, building a conference center, adding disabled accessibility improvements and running the program for its initial year. Plans also included bringing doctors from trauma centers to stay at the facility for extended periods.

Iselin declined to reveal the total amount of pledges. At the beginning of July, Higher Ground announced that it had received $3 million in pledges with 70 days left to the Sept. 15 deadline set in the purchasing contract.

Two weeks still remain to meet the fundraising mark, but Higher Ground is calling it quits.

"Unfortunately, we exhausted our list of potential donors and we simply were unable to raise the required funds to buy the inn," Iselin said. "The community was very supportive and encouraging of the initiative and our efforts, but we came up short. It makes me kind of sad."

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Iselin said Higher Ground would continue its operations, hosting eight therapeutic sports camps for veterans suffering from severe injuries or post-traumatic stress disorder. The organization, formed in 2005, serves 140 veterans and their spouses each year and covers all costs for them.

Iselin said Higher Ground won't be pursuing another facility at this time.

Meanwhile, the Knob Hill Inn's owners are still trying to sell the 29-room luxury hotel, as they have been since 2008, according to commercial real estate agent Joshua Wells. The price has been reduced to $7.8 million. Wells said it was put on the market in 2008 for $10.5 million, and the price was later lowered to $8.2 million. Wells said Higher Ground came along soon after that price drop.

During the listing, the hotel has remained open.

"It has been open, it continues to be open and will remain open until sold," Wells said. "And it could remain open after that."

He said several interested purchasing parties want to keep it as a hotel, and another potential buyer expressed plans to make it a retired-living facility.

"But the majority of interest is for hospitality," Wells said.

Trevon Milliard: tmilliard@mtexpress.com




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