Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Visitor center remodel is nearly complete

Grand opening set for Friday

Express Staff Writer

The renovated visitor center in Ketchum will open to the public, visitors and locals alike, on Friday.

The grand opening, auspiciously set for 11/11/11, comes after more than two months of upgrades to a former bank building at the corner of East Avenue and Sun Valley Road.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for 3 p.m. at the site. Ketchum Mayor Randy Hall and other city officials and marketing and business representatives will be present.

The event marks a soft opening, Greg Randolph, general manager of the Sun Valley Chamber of Commerce, told the Ketchum Urban Renewal Agency on Monday.

"It will be a look-and-see kind of experience," he said.

A bigger event will be scheduled later, he said.

The visitor center has had a migratory history, moving from location to location over the years. Most recently, it has taken short-term occupancy in a space next to the Clarion Inn while building renovation got underway.

Its new, permanent home will be equipped with plasma screens, iPads and other technology not often found in visitor centers. The technology will present highlights of the area and will also allow people to get content they want, be it e-mail access or maps to trailheads.

"What we've been able to do is create a platform that can evolve, showing visitors what there is to do," Randolph said in an interview. "More than anything, we want people to come in and see what Sun Valley is, visually."

The visitor center will share space with a Starbucks café.

The Starbucks on Main Street closed Nov. 6. A franchise Starbucks will open to the general public at 6 a.m. Friday at the East Avenue and Sun Valley Road location.

The grand opening celebration will take place Friday from 4-6 p.m.

The event will include live acoustic music and wine and coffee tasting.

"What makes our Starbucks unique is it's everything you know about a Starbucks, but it's got local relevance," said Jane Rizzo, principal of Cairde Group, which will own and operate the café.

"Local artisans created the space using resources and reclaimed materials from throughout the Wood River Valley and Idaho," Rizzo said in a written statement. "Our menu offers the Starbucks favorites ... as well as creations from our local artisan bakers and wine makers here in the valley."

Rebecca Meany:

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