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Friday, June 4, 2004


To swap or not to swap?

Ketchum to hold public hearing on proposed land trade

Express Staff Writer

The Ketchum City Council will conduct a public hearing 5:30 p.m. Monday, June 7, to discuss a proposal to exchange a city-owned land parcel at Fourth and Main streets for a privately owned piece of land near Ketchum City Hall.

The proposed deal would trade the city’s Town Square parcel—the site of the Sun Valley-Ketchum Chamber & Visitors Bureau information center—for a vacant parcel directly south of the Giacobbi Square shopping center, at the corner of Fourth Street and East Avenue.

The private parcel is owned by Wells Fargo Bank.

Council members on May 17 voted unanimously to issue a so-called "declaration of intent" to move forward with the land swap. The two parties intend to close the transaction after Labor Day.

Both parcels are commercial-zoned properties that comprise approximately 11,000 square feet of land area.

The city parcel at 411 N. Main St. has been valued at $1,232,000, while the Wells Fargo parcel has been appraised at $1,353,000.

City officials have said the deal would include a direct swap of the parcels, plus a city payment of $148,000 to Wells Fargo. The payment would comprise the $121,000 difference in the appraised values of the two parcels, plus an extra $27,000 to ensure Wells Fargo receives the same amount it originally paid for its Fourth Street parcel.

Mayor Ed Simon has said the city would like to use the Wells Fargo 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 Chamber visitor center on Main Street would have to be relocated. The Chamber currently leases the Town Square site from the city for a nominal amount.

A senior official from Wells Fargo bank said last month that the California-based corporation has not determined what it would do with the Ketchum Town Square site if the deal is completed.

Pat McMurray, Wells Fargo Idaho Region president, said Wells Fargo would consider selling, trading or developing the Town Square parcel with a new bank office.

Wells Fargo currently operates a branch office at 600 Sun Valley Rd. in central Ketchum. An existing lease option on that property could allow the bank to stay there through December 2010.

The council is expected to vote on whether to finalize the deal after the June 7 public hearing.

The exact uses of the new parcel would not be determined until after the deal is approved by the City Council, city officials have said.


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