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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of June 12 - 18, 2002


Hotel plans submitted for downtown Ketchum

P&Z focuses on height

Express Staff Writer

An 81-room, high-end hotel could be in the works for downtown Ketchum, at the Bald Mountain Lodge site on Main Street.

Ketchum Lawyer Brian Barsotti, who owns the site, explained hotel plans Monday night to the Ketchum Planning and Zoning Commission, which responded favorably to the complex proposal. Barsotti’s plans slate a 84,300-square-foot full-service hotel that towers 49 feet above the ground at its highest roof line. A proposed clock tower would be 65 feet high.

"The basic plan takes the shape of an ‘H’, and the reason for that is to present less of the building to Main Street," the project’s architect, Larry Stricker, said.

Several conditions could make or break the project, Barsotti said.

The 49-foot height, which is nine feet above the city’s limit for pitched roofs, will add to the project’s feel, Barsotti said.

"It really needs a pitched roof," he said. "The building needs to be an attractive building that’s not only good for us in terms of attracting people, but good for the city, too."

Another make-or-break issue, Barsotti said, is a request that the city pay for burying power lines along River Street.

Both issues would be handled under a planned unit development agreement, which enables the city to negotiate its ordinances in return for something it wants. Previously, for example, the city allowed extra height at Thunder Spring in exchange for recreation benefits, open space and employee housing.

In this case, the city would trade height and the cost of burying power lines for a downtown hotel.

"We’ve heard a lot of talk that the city of Ketchum wants to see a hotel," Barsotti said. "Well, we’re going to find out how badly it wants a hotel."

Monday’s hearing was a very preliminary step in what could become a drawn-out process. PUD requests must be considered by the P&Z and approved or denied by the city council. That process is unrelated to design review proceedings, which were begun Monday.

In general, P&Z commissioners said they were concerned with the proposed height but added that a workable trade may be possible.

"Overall, I really support the idea," said Commissioner Greg Strong. "I personally think the height is going to be the biggest issue relative to public concern."

Commissioner Rod Sievers expressed enthusiasm.

"This is a great start," he said. "I’m a very strong supporter of the hotel concept in the downtown core. It’s something I think we need to bend over backwards to try to accommodate. You’ve got a long ways to go, but you’re on the right track."

The ‘H’-shaped hotel would include kitchen, dining, banquet, spa and retail facilities on its ground floor. It would house 81 hotel rooms on its second and third floors, and underground parking would comprise the basement.

The courtyard facing Main Street would be a motor court for hotel registration and short-term parking, and the rear courtyard would include a fountain and park-like atmosphere.

Construction materials have not yet been considered, Stricker said.

Barsotti said he needed some time to regroup and digest the P&Z’s requests. He did not request another immediate hearing.


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.