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For the week of Jan. 12 through Jan. 18, 2000

P&Z, residents push for design changes in Ketchum hotel

Commissioner Sievers: "Building is way too massive"

Express Staff Writer

A large hotel proposed for Ketchum’s downtown will have to incorporate a more neighbor-friendly and mountain-oriented design if it’s going to receive the Ketchum Planning and Zoning Commission’s stamp of approval.

The 139,000 square foot, four-story Ketchum Hotel, as it would be called, would replace the existing Clarion Inn and surrounding buildings, on the corner of Ketchum’s Main and Sixth streets.

If approved, it would fill the entire block.

The commission visited the proposal by Seattle-based developer The Lewis Co. on Monday night at its regular meeting for a pre-application design review hearing. In such hearings, the commission provides feedback to a structure’s designers without making a ruling.

The Ketchum Hotel, because of its size, will undergo another pre-application design review hearing before it’s subjected to the commission’s final judgment.

According to Ketchum’s design review ordinance, "new development should be sensitive to the historic context from which Ketchum has evolved…New development should be responsive to the fact that Ketchum is a small town located in a mountain environment."

The commission’s cursory examination of the building’s plans reflected that section of the ordinance.

The panel voiced unanimous objections to the proposed size, particularly the Leadville Avenue façade, which faces several homes. All of the members called the proposed structure "too urban."

"It’s a prop-up," Commissioner Peter Gray told the building’s Seattle-based architects. "It really looks like a Costco with some stuff sticking on the side of it."

Commissioner Rod Sievers agreed.

"Without a doubt, the building is way too massive," he said. "It doesn’t give me any sense whatsoever of a mountain building."

Public comment was also clear.

Those who live on Leadville Avenue spoke of the view of Bald Mountain and natural sunlight they would loose with a 40-foot-tall edifice across the street.

Leadville Avenue resident Rex Davis said he doesn’t want to see his street become an alley-like anomaly.

"Sure the guests will have a great view, but at my expense," he said.

Another Leadville Avenue resident, Michael Suttor, said the building just doesn’t fit in with the scale of the town.

"Ketchum is essentially a three-story town. It shouldn’t present 40 feet and four floors on Main Street. It doesn’t make sense to put a big building in a town like Ketchum," he said.

The commission asked the architects to terrace the building back from the street. Additionally, the commission did not approve of the proposed concrete and stucco-style building materials.

"This commission has taken a pretty firm stance against stucco-style architecture," Commissioner Susan Scovell said.

In conclusion, Scovell told the architects to listen to the public comment that was offered.

The building is being built in the middle of a group of homes, and should blend with the surrounding uses, she said.


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