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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of October 8 - 14, 2003


Development plan proposed for Simplot lot

Informal proposal includes
new city hall, retail and homes

Express Staff Writer

The owners of the Simplot lot, the 3.8-acre parcel of vacant land adjacent to the Ketchum Post Office, have put forth a master plan for the high-profile property that includes housing, parks and a variety of civic uses.

Addressing a long list of lingering questions among the public about what could become of the site, two representatives of the Simplot family presented the plan Monday, Oct. 6, to the Ketchum City Council.

Architect James Ruscitto and project manager Dick Fenton told council members and a small contingent of the public that the owners have developed a vision for the property that seeks to meet the needs of a variety of interest groups.

"This is a tremendous opportunity for the city, the community and the Simplots," Ruscitto said as he unveiled the master plan.

Owned by members of the Simplot family since the 1950s, the Simplot lot is considered the largest piece of prime undeveloped land in central Ketchum. The parcel covers two city blocks between Second and Third avenues and Fourth and Sixth streets.

Ruscitto drafted the plan presented to the council Monday. On Tuesday, Ruscitto said the key aspect of the plan is a request for the city to vacate two platted, undeveloped roadways on the parcel in exchange for a long-term agreement that would limit the amount of development and guarantee a large percentage of public open space.

The primary aspects of the plan include:

  • Developing the west half of the property with 25 housing units dispersed among 12, two-story buildings. The clustered residences would be accessed from Third Avenue, which would be finished where it borders the west side of the Simplot lot.

  • Establishing a lot on the southeast corner of the site that would be sold to the Sun Valley Center for the Arts for development of a new 25,000-square-foot headquarters and an attached park. The land would be sold to the organization at an approximately 25 percent market-rate discount.

  • Constructing an approximately 25,000-square-foot mixed-use structure immediately west of the intersection of Fifth Street and Second Avenue. The building would offer commercial spaces on the ground floor and penthouse residential units on the second floor. An underground parking garage with 130 stalls would be built under the structure, while a mini bus station would be built at ground level.

  • Selling to the city of Ketchum—also at a discount—a parcel on the northeast corner of the site for location of a new 25,000-square-foot city hall and police department headquarters, as well as a city park. (The city could then develop a new fire department headquarters in the location of its existing city hall on East Ave.)

  • Maintaining approximately 60 percent of the Tourist-zoned lot as dedicated open space.

  • Reconfiguring the public bike path that crosses the property so it accesses the new Ketchum City Hall and continues on.

Ruscitto and Fenton stressed that the master plan is not a formal development proposal. However, they said that if a version of the plan is approved by the city it could become a solid blueprint for development of the site, in which the building footprints and percentages of open space would be fixed.

The two representatives said they are seeking public input on the plan.

Mayor Ed Simon said he supports the concept. "I would encourage you to keep the process moving," he told Ruscitto and Fenton.



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