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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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Wednesday, May 12, 2004


P&Z smiles upon Dollar Lodge plan

Construction is already under way

Express Staff Writer

In a decision likely to be popular with locals and visitors alike, Sun Valley Planning and Zoning commissioners this week approved plans for a luxurious new ski lodge at the base of Dollar Mountain.

The P&Z Tuesday, May 11 voted unanimously to permit and approve the design of the proposed Dollar Mountain Lodge, an approximately 26,000-square-foot day lodge that will replace the now-defunct Dollar Cabin.

The new lodge was proposed to the city last month by Sun Valley Co. It is the first major project from an ambitious 50-year master development plan for the resort company’s land holdings in the Sun Valley-Ketchum area.

Wally Huffman, Sun Valley Co. general manager, said the estimated $8 million lodge is scheduled to be open for business by Christmas.

Huffman said one goal in building the lodge is to increase the popularity of Dollar Mountain, which tends to follow "tremendous peaks and valleys" in use trends.

"The strategy here is to build some business during the valleys," he said.

In an effort to meet the self-imposed construction schedule, Sun Valley Co. work crews commenced preparation of the site in advance of the Tuesday meeting, moving large amounts of earth where Dollar Cabin once stood. The decades-old cabin was demolished on May 1.

The plans approved by the P&Z Tuesday call for construction of an elaborate, two-level mountain lodge that will include a cafeteria-style restaurant, ski-rental business, daycare facility and ski-school office, as well as a segregated children’s ski and snowboard school.

The new lodge and an attached outdoor terrace will be oriented to face Bald Mountain, not directly at Dollar Mountain, project architect Nick Latham said.

Plans also call for expanding the 120-stall parking area north of the site to a 199-space paved parking lot.

The building exterior—designed to resemble Sun Valley Co.’s other day lodges—will feature heavy timbers, copper details and locally quarried granite, from the Triumph area.

Huffman noted that Sun Valley Co. in the future will likely make improvements to most of the Dollar Mountain ski lifts.

"I don’t know what to do with the Elkhorn lift," he noted. "I just have no idea what is going to happen there."

The land-use permit issued Tuesday will allow Sun Valley Co. to operate the new lodge year-round.

After Huffman had suggested the company intends to use the property for occasional warm-weather events—such as weddings, banquets or the annual Swing ’n’ Dixie Jazz Jamboree—Commissioner Nils Ribi asked whether summer use of the lodge should be governed under a separate permit.

Huffman argued that over-regulation of the lodge could force him to tell Sun Valley Co. owner Earl Holding to cancel the project altogether.

"You can’t really expect us to invest $8 million over there and only use it four months of the year," he said.

In approving the project, the P&Z issued a set of conditions that essentially recognize Sun Valley Co.’s right to use the facility year-round but also provide a mechanism for reviewing off-season events if they pose a threat to the "health, safety and welfare" of Sun Valley citizens.


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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.