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Wednesday, May 12, 2004


Major downtown land trade pursued

Ketchum Visitor Center would have to be moved

Express Staff Writer

The city of Ketchum is pursuing a deal with Wells Fargo Bank that would trade the site of the city’s visitor center on Main Street for a vacant land parcel immediately south of Giacobbi Square, along Fourth Street.

The potential land swap was made public Tuesday, May 11, after Ketchum Mayor Ed Simon notified the executive director of the Sun Valley-Ketchum Chamber & Visitors Bureau that the organization will likely have to vacate the visitor-center site by September or October.

Simon on Tuesday said the city and the bank are very close to consummating the land trade, which would swap two commercial-zoned properties that have both been valued in excess of $1 million.

Simon said the City Council—which discussed the matter in executive session this week—is generally in favor of the plan.

"We think it’s a fair transaction," he said.

Specifically, the trade would involve the city transferring to the bank a deed for the two-lot parcel at Main and Fourth streets in exchange for title to the two-lot Wells Fargo parcel across from Atkinsons’ Market.

The city parcel—which is occupied by the visitor center and former City Hall—is currently leased to the Chamber for a nominal amount.

Under the plan, City Administrator Ron LeBlanc said, the Chamber would have to relocate the visitor center. The two city buildings on the site would be destroyed to make space for a new Wells Fargo Bank, he noted.

Simon said the city could use its new parcel—which is currently leased by the bank to the operators of Giacobbi Square for parking—as a site for a new underground parking garage and public park.

"The initial intention is to use it for open space," Simon said.

The mayor noted that the city might accommodate a new visitor center at the site.

However, Simon said, the uses of the parcel will not be determined until the deal is approved by the City Council.

The City Council will conduct a public hearing on the proposed deal at their Monday, June 7 meeting.


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