Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Warm Springs Ranch redesign moves ahead

P&Z reviews plans for scaled-down hotel project

Express Staff Writer

A rendering of the conceptual design for Warm Springs Ranch Resort shows a project that includes hotel rooms, residences, meeting space and other facilities. The plan has been downsized from the original concept. Courtesy graphic

Plans for a resort hotel in the Warm Springs area of Ketchum got a boost Monday as the Planning and Zoning Commission gave a preliminary nod to a redesign for the project.

Commissioners heard a request by Helios Development for pre-application design review of the Warm Springs Ranch Resort project, Phase 1, including the main building.

"There's a good chance, let's hope, that we're going to see this (happen)," said Commissioner Steve Cook. "So this is the commission's opportunity to drill down on this."

The City Council approved a modified agreement with developers last year.

The six-story hotel off Warm Springs Road and Flower Drive would have 122 hotel rooms, 16,000 square feet of meeting space and other amenities. Plans call for the south wing, separated by a one-story porte-cochere and entry area, to have condominiums.

Project representatives are required to go back to the P&Z to gain approval for the design because it changed from what originally was approved.

The project uses nearly identical colors and materials as the earlier incarnation. The shape of the building and the size, however, are different.

"We came up with color palettes that were taken from the natural surroundings of the site," said the project's architect, Mark Philp.

Materials include natural stone, timber, fir poles, glass, copper, zinc, stucco and recycled materials.

Other aspects of the project include a new trail network with public access and connections to existing and future trails, and a dedicated westbound turn lane and new bus shelter on Warm Springs Road.

Commissioners discussed whether the 222 parking spaces proposed would be enough during peak periods.

"The parking seems light to me. That's my intuition," said Commissioner Jeff Lamoureux, a civil engineer. "The internal streets are so narrow—if there's overflow there's really nowhere to go."

Project representatives said that with valet parking, cars could be parked in tandem, accommodating 400 vehicles.

The commission and staff also discussed increased traffic flow on Warm Springs Road and the potential impact on intersections at 10th Street and Main Street.

Commissioners asked that the formal design review application include more detail on the parking studies that project representatives used to calculate parking spaces, specifics on how the pedestrian connection between the hotel and Warm Springs Road would work, and more information on retaining walls, snow removal and garbage pickup.

"There may be poor decisions, but I don't want that to be predicated on poor planning because we didn't ask the right questions," said Commissioner Michael Doty.

Developers will come back to the P&Z for design review, likely within a few months.

"We're trying to get the best project we can," said Commissioner Rich Fabiano, "and I think we're headed in that direction."

Rebecca Meany:

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