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For the week of April 30 - May 6, 2003


Developer Brian Barsotti on Monday showed a new set of plans to the Ketchum Planning and Zoning Commission for his proposed Bald Mountain Lodge on Main Street. The new plans call for a reduction in the building’s height but approximately the same amount of square footage as a previous plan rejected by the city. Architect’s rendering

Bald Mountain Lodge plan revived

Barsotti proposes scaled-down
version of hotel

Express Staff Writer

The Bald Mountain Lodge—the controversial hotel proposed for 151 Main St. in Ketchum—has been redesigned after its previous plans were rejected by the Ketchum City Council in January.

Ketchum attorney and developer Brian Barsotti on Monday, April 28, showed a revised set of plans for the project to Ketchum Planning and Zoning commissioners as part of a pre-application design review hearing.

Essentially, Barsotti showed the design Monday to gauge whether city officials might consider them more favorable than a previous design that was approved by the P&Z but was turned back by the City Council, in part because it required a waiver to accommodate its proposed 59-foot height.

Barsotti on Monday tentatively proposed a scaled-back version of the previous design that features three stories—rather than four—and a roof line that reaches a maximum of 47 feet. The city height limit for such projects is 40 feet.

Speaking before a small crowd of approximately 30 area citizens, Barsotti told the P&Z that he wanted to find out if the new design "is something we can go forward with."

He noted that the new design would require fewer waivers than the original plan and would create significantly less impact on the surrounding environment.

"We think that this is good architecture," he said.

Barsotti said the new design features 80 rooms, one less than the 81 originally proposed. The new plans call for development of approximately 84,000 square feet of space, roughly the same as the previous design.

The new plan is different primarily in that the fourth floor shown in the previous plans—and its 12 guest rooms—have been removed from the top of the building and relocated, mainly to the ground floor. Consequently, a significant amount of open space originally proposed for the ground level would be eliminated, Barsotti noted.

Commissioners offered several vague sentiments of support for the plan, but hesitated to tell Barsotti they believe it would be approved by the city.

"Aesthetically, I like it," said Commissioner Greg Strong. "I liked the last one aesthetically."

Commissioner Peter Ripsom said he thought the hotel plan met some of the key goals set forth in the city’s comprehensive plan.

Activist Mickey Garcia showed support for the plan and chastised its critics. He said the first hotel plan was appropriate for the city, but was stopped by "capricious" members of the City Council. "I don’t know what’s to say this won’t happen again," he said.

Sun Valley resident Karen Reinheimer said she is concerned that the project might "wipe out" competing downtown hotels.

Real estate broker Tom Monge said he believes the waivers Barsotti would need under the new plan would be "pretty small," noting that he thinks the city ought to approve it. "I think it’s time we recognize we are a tourist town," he said.

A small contingent of the public present at the meeting questioned whether the hotel was needed or would be economically viable. Commissioner Strong told the crowd that the panel should not attempt to ascertain whether a project is economically viable.

"This is the free-market system," he said.

The previous plans for the lodge were reviewed by the city for nearly a year before the City Council in January unanimously voted to remand the application back to the P&Z. Councilman Randy Hall and Councilwoman Chris Potters said the proposed building’s height must be curbed for the project to gain approval.

Prior to the Monday meeting, Barsotti defended the original design of the project, noting that he might have to consider a "residential alternative" for the site if a new application for the hotel "gets difficult."

He said the previous design and the new design—despite their height—would have less of an imposing impact on the surrounding area than a 40-foot straight-faced building because the upper levels would be set back significantly. He added that because of the high cost of commercial land in Ketchum—approximately $110 per square foot—the hotel needs to have a specific number of rooms before it can be made profitable.

"You need some bulk, you need some size, to offset that cost," he said.

He said rooms at the lodge will cost approximately $350,000 each to build.

Barsotti said three other Ketchum hotels, the Knob Hill Inn, Clarion Inn and Kentwood Lodge, if proposed today would not meet the city’s zoning ordinance, and should therefore not be used for direct comparison in the matter.

The developer said his studies indicate that Ketchum needs a high-end hotel, significantly more than high-end housing units.

"Most cities would be bending over backwards to help you get there," he said of the hotel proposal. "I personally think that Ketchum is in trouble."


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