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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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Wednesday, March 3, 2004


Warm Springs
plans advance

Developers ask architects
to draft site design

Express Staff Writer

The owners of the 77-acre Warm Springs Ranch property are taking steps toward redeveloping the site to host a mix of commercial, residential and recreational uses.

Two principal representatives of Sun Valley Ventures, the owner of the property north of downtown Ketchum, said last week they intend to establish on the site a new Warm Springs Ranch Restaurant, a collection of residences, an expanse of public open space and possibly a small hotel.

Stephen Roth, a partner in Sun Valley Ventures, and Henry Dean, general counsel and project director for the company, issued numerous statements about the status of the Warm Springs redevelopment project during a Friday, Feb. 27, site visit to the property.

Sun Valley resident Stephen Roth, right, a partner in a California company planning to redevelop Warm Springs Ranch, reviews an aerial photograph of the property last Friday with students from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Speaking with Roth is one of the students, Jordan Durhan. Express photo by Willy Cook

The site visit unofficially kicked off a campaign by Sun Valley Ventures to begin the lengthy process of planning the project and getting the appropriate permits to proceed.

During the visit, Roth and Dean formally announced that Sun Valley Ventures has commissioned three different groups to separately draft development plans for the site, including one group composed of students from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design.

Ketchum-based architect Jim Ruscitto has been contracted to develop a second set of plans for the Warm Springs property. Colorado-based Design Workshop—which has been contracted by Sun Valley Co. to develop a master plan for all of its properties—has been commissioned to develop a third conceptual development plan.

"We’ll take the efforts of all three and put them together to take the best of the best," Dean said.

Dean said Design Workshop has been asked to develop two sets of plans, one that includes a 35- to 50-room hotel, and one with no hotel facility.

Roth said only three general determinations have been made about the development project, while the details will continue to be worked out with a 20-member citizens’ advisory group established last year.

Roth said the project will certainly include:

  • Rebuilding the Warm Springs Ranch Restaurant in a new location adjacent to the existing facility, which the developers believe is too dilapidated to be used in the future.

  • Restoring to a natural state the degraded banks of Warm Springs Creek, which runs through the heart of the property.

  • Preserving a substantial area of public open space in parts of the property currently reserved as the Warm Springs Golf Course.

Roth said the new restaurant will include "rustic, family-style" elements reminiscent of the existing restaurant, as well as a modern kitchen and larger decks.

The golf course, Roth said, will either be upgraded significantly or converted to public open space for low-impact recreational activities. The golf facility would require substantial landscape work to host play in the future, he noted.

"The $26 round of golf will have to go away," Roth said, noting that a mere 1,100 rounds of golf were played at the 9-hole course in 2003.

Dean said Sun Valley Ventures will seek to determine the best uses of the open space on the property through additional meetings with its advisory committee and concerned neighbors.

Henry Dean, project manager for Sun Valley Ventures, which owns Warm Springs Ranch, shows the property to a group of graduate students from Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Looking on are students Bongjoo Kim, left, Krystal England, center, and Jun Kamesaki. Express photo by Willy Cook

Roth said the developers are planning to submit within eight months an application to the city of Ketchum to develop the property.

While most of the Warm Springs property is under the jurisdiction of Blaine County, approximately 10 acres of the site is located in the city of Ketchum. Roth said the developers plan to request annexation of the balance of the site into the city so the entire property could be developed as part of a city-approved planned-unit development.

"It will probably be 2006 before we break ground," Roth said.

Dean said an affordable-housing component could be included in the PUD application.

Sun Valley Ventures, which spent much of last year in litigation over their March 2003 acquisition of the property for $12 million, is no longer hindered by legal challenges, Dean noted.

"We are absolutely free to proceed," he said.

The team of graduate students charged with rendering a conceptual plan for the site will work on the project until April 21, when they will be asked to make a formal presentation at Harvard University, in Cambridge, Mass.

The group, which includes five architecture, real-estate development and planning students from Harvard and one from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, are participating in the project through Harvard’s Real Estate Academic Initiative, a field-study program founded in part by Roth.

During a five-day stay in Ketchum from Feb. 26 to March 2, the group of students met with Ketchum Mayor Ed Simon, Ketchum Planning Director Harold Moniz and numerous members of the community.



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