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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

For the week of December 24 - 30, 2002


New city hall could result from private sector deal

Express Staff Writer

A new Ketchum city hall and police station could be imminent if the cityís citizens agree with the projectís concepts and designs and are willing to foot a $10 million to $15 million bill.

For several months, a Ketchum-based architect and developer team has been looking at numbers and concepts associated with the cityís facilities needs. The pair believe they could build a new city hall and police station, and carry out a remodel of the cityís fire department, in as few as 16 months.

The Ketchum City Council looks on as Ketchum architect Jim Ruscitto, below, presents conceptual, hand-drawn plans for a new Ketchum City Hall to the Ketchum City Council. Ruscitto and Ketchum developer Henry Dean are proposing to build a city hall, which would then be paid by the public with a municipal bond. Express photos by David N. Selig

At a special noon Ketchum City Council meeting Dec. 19, developer Henry Dean and architect Jim Ruscitto presented their "back-of-the-envelope" idea to build a roughly 30,000-square-foot, two-story city hall and police station on the cityís main street, between Fourth and Fifth Streets.

The building would accommodate the cityís existing expansion needs, as well as projected growth for as few as 10 years. A new visitors center would also be erected on the site.

"But first of all, the people have to say they want it," Dean said.

The Ketchum City Council invited the pair back to city hall for a Jan. 21 meeting, when the team is scheduled to present more detailed plans. A public hearing is also planned for Jan. 21.

Dean said the "design, build, finance" method of building and paying for the project is a proven method for building public works. Ketchum already owns two of the blockís lots, and Dean has the other two under contract.

The financing agreement has got a number in it that Dean said he must perform at, "and if I donít, thatís my loss."

"This is a tested and true program that has been used by cities and municipalities for years and years and years," Dean said.

The project would consist of three distinct parts, the city hall and police station comprising only one. The existing Ketchum city hall at the corner of Fifth Street and East Avenue could be either remodeled for $1.5 million or razed and rebuilt for $5.5 million. Either way, the Ketchum Fire Department would expand into the additional space.

The third part of the proposal includes expanding the park at the corner of Sixth and Main Streets into the adjacent alley and city-owned parking lot. The park expansion would be done using private monies, with the cityís land commitment.

Parking stalls lost from the park expansion would be replaced fivefold at the new city hall, where 150 parking stalls would be built in two underground levels.

Whatís more, Dean said he would apply for federal housing tax credits, and, if approved, would include 15 to 20 affordable housing units at the remodeled or rebuilt fire station.

Ruscitto said this is an opportunity for the city to take a leading role in using its new design review regulations, "to demonstrate that buildings can be built with architectural character that includes Ketchumís architectural heritage."

Dean and Ruscitto have worked free of charge so far. They stand to make money only if Ketchum citizens invite them to develop the project.

"If nothing else, it will get people thinking and talking, and thatís OK," Dean said.


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