Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ketchum Starbucks plans to relocate

Coffee purveyor would move into visitor center building if URA approves plan

Express Staff Writer

Cairde Group, made up of local investors, wants to follow this Starbucks “Heritage” model for its Starbucks coffee shop, proposed for space inside the Ketchum visitor center at the corner of Sun Valley Road and East Avenue. The Heritage concept is inspired by the historic first Starbucks store in Seattle’s Pike Place Market. Courtesy photo

The Starbucks café on the corner of Ketchum's Main Street and Sun Valley Road may be moved to the visitor center two blocks to the east on Sun Valley Road.

The proposed relocation was revealed at a Monday meeting of the Ketchum Urban Renewal Agency, which owns the building housing the visitor center. The URA has been advertising 1,200 square feet of empty space on the ground floor there to lease to a food-service establishment. The application deadline was Friday, and the URA received only one applicant—Starbucks.

Lisa Horowitz, Ketchum's director of community and economic development, said she heard from five interested parties but only Starbucks followed through and applied.

"I'm disappointed that we have one of one instead of one of many," said URA board member and City Councilman Larry Helzel.

This may have something to do with the 30 Ketchum restaurateurs who sent a letter to the URA declaring that they're "adamantly opposed" to the idea and asking that the search be discontinued. However, only one restaurateur showed up to speak at Monday's meeting, Grumpy's owner Pete Prekeges. He argued that the government shouldn't be leasing to a private company, even if it will be at market rate.

The URA—separate from the city government but led by the same elected officials and two others—couldn't make a decision concerning Starbucks' application because it only had three of its seven members present. The board members in attendance—Helzel, Councilman Curtis Kemp and Mayor Randy Hall—said they were excited by the possibility.

"I think it's going to be a great amenity for the town," Helzel said, because the hope is that having Starbucks there would increase foot traffic into the visitor center.

Kemp agreed, declaring that a Starbucks/visitor center would be a good "conjunctive" use for the building.

The Starbucks wouldn't be corporation-owned and operated as it is at the current location, but locally owned and operated, according to Jane Rizzo, a member of Cairde Group, which consists of local investors who would own the new Starbucks location. Rizzo, who would operate the new Starbucks, said Starbucks came to Cairde Group wanting to relocate and turn the new location into a franchise. She said that its being a franchise would give them the freedom to use locally produced goods.

"We will be offering regional beer and wine selections as well as locally sourced baked goods," reads the application. "We will be showcasing local talent through art displays, poetry readings and music."

Cairde Group also provided a timeline, planning to open the location on June 27 after receiving the go-ahead and undertaking an extensive remodel.

"Our plan is to upgrade the building with geothermal heating and cooling, heated pavers and solar panels," reads the application.

The interior design will be based on Starbucks' Heritage Model, implemented in only four other Starbucks. The Heritage design is meant to echo the first Starbucks in Seattle's historic Pike Place Market, using a lot of wood and materials beckoning back to a simpler time. Design elements include a fireplace, soft seating, café seating and a wine/beer bar and kitchen.

Helzel said the URA should be "receptive" to the proposal, especially considering the vast amount of remodeling that Cairde Group has planned. However, Hall and Kemp said they're concerned about Starbucks' taking up too much space, as was Ketchum resident Phyllis Shafran.

"The visitors center just has a little kiosk," she said. "It needs more space."

The URA couldn't delve into these or any details since no one from Cairde Group was present. The URA board itself was mostly absent. The details will have to wait for the next meeting on a date yet to be decided. Hall said he'd like to schedule a special meeting in a week or two.

Trevon Milliard:

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