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For the week of Mar. 1 through Mar. 7, 2000

The Peaks : a 21,995 sq. ft. building proposed for the fomer Louie's lot

Building tests Ketchum’s limits

Developer says it’s an example of how maximizing use of a lot can be done right

Express Staff Writer

A proposed Ketchum commercial building is testing the limits of the city’s regulations.

The Peaks, a three-story, 21,995 square foot building proposed for the former Louie’s Restaurant site, was designed to embrace the location’s vibrant history and reflect Ketchum’s mining and mountain heritage, the building’s developer, Marshall Smith of Hailey, said in an interview Friday.

It would be close to 40 feet tall and have a floor area ratio (FAR) of 1.99. The city allows maximum FARs of 2 and heights of 40 feet if underground parking is provided. FARs are calculated by dividing a building’s square footage by its lot size.

The proposal is one of four commercial buildings that was not subjected to special 120-day interim regulations that limit construction of large buildings in Ketchum’s downtown. The Ketchum City Council unanimously adopted the 120 day regulations in early February.

But the project didn’t hold up to the Ketchum Planning and Zoning Commission’s critical eye Monday night at a pre-application design review hearing, in which Smith and the P&Z exchanged ideas on the proposal.

"I just don’t feel like this design is small western," Commissioner Baird Gourlay said. "I’m just very concerned about the size of these towers."

Detail of street-facing facade, The Peaks buildingThe majority of the commissioners agreed that the building’s timber facades, facing Leadville Avenue and Sun Valley Road, are attractive. The approximately 40-foot-tall sandstone corners, however, are too big, the commissioners said.

The corners would house elevators and stairs for the three-story building.

The stone corners, Smith explained, are designed to resemble mining shafts.

"It’s a huge stretch to convince me that [the corners] resemble mining shafts," Commissioner Rod Sievers told Smith and his architects, McLaughlan & Associates of Ketchum, at the meeting.

The building would have large inner open areas, an escalator (Ketchum’s first), an elevator and ample decks on multiple sides of the building.

The half-hour presentation the design team gave at the meeting was a brief glimpse into the design process for the building, according to Smith. He’s been drawing plans for a downtown Ketchum commercial building for five years, though not always for the Louie’s site. He finalized the purchase of the land late in the summer.

During his five years of designing, he said, he’s been paying attention to what the P&Z has wanted from other developers.

"I had a vision of what I wanted to do, which changed over five years many times based on what we’ve heard from the [city officials] and people around town," Smith said.

Part of that vision is an attempt to "commemorate the history of the site," Smith said. The third floor restaurant could be named Club Rio, Smith suggested, after the old bar that once sat on the corner of Sun Valley Road and Leadville Avenue, and the outside of the building would have plaques explaining the importance of the site to Ketchum historically.

Also, the Leadville Espresso House’s name could be used for a second floor coffee shop. The espresso house was in the historic building formerly known as Louie’s.

Finally, Smith said he’s working with Dick Meyer and Floyd McCracken of the Ketchum Historical Society on setting up historic presentations on the second floor of the building.

The building’s architect, Bernie Johnson, told the P&Z that he and the building’s other planners would return, having taken comments into consideration. A return date for the project is not yet set.


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