Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Hotel developers get 1-year extension

Still-slow economy keeps Main Street project on ice


By BRENNAN REGO
Express Staff Writer

Admitting that the economy has not yet bounced back to business as usual, the Ketchum City Council unanimously granted a second one-year extension to Highmark Investments on its building permit application deadline set by the Bald Mountain Lodge development agreement.

Highmark CEO Michael Kerby appealed to the council on Nov. 5, citing the difficulty of securing investors in the current economic climate.

“I wish I could be here under different circumstances,” he said. “We haven’t been sitting on our hands. We’ve been working hard to figure out how we’re going to get this done.”

Kerby said the “holdbacks” were out of Highmark’s control, but that the firm had made some changes to the project’s design to better tailor it to the current economy. He said Highmark is currently requesting approval from the Planning and Zoning Commission to replace 26 originally planned residential units with more hotel rooms, allowing the developer to increase the total number of hotel rooms from 87 to 119 while reducing the number of condominiums to 11. The project’s exterior would remain the same.

Councilman Baird Gourlay said he thinks increasing the number of hotel rooms is a good idea.

“One of our major original concerns [with the project] was it was going to be a condominium project with a hotel attached,” he said.

Mayor Randy Hall said in an interview that hotel rooms are more desirable than condominiums because they generate more tax revenue for the city and also provide more room for the city to host money-spending visitors. He said short-term hotel guests generally contribute more to the city’s economy than people who purchase condominiums as second homes, but don’t spend much time living—and therefore shopping—in Ketchum.

Councilwoman Nina Jonas said the council should be open to allowing the developer to set its sails with the economic winds. She even suggested freeing the developer to lower the star rating of the hotel from four or five stars to three, should he wish to do so.

“That would give the developer more options, given the current market,” she said.

Mayor Randy Hall said that was a good idea and the other council members agreed.

“I have no problem with that,” Kerby said. “It just gives us more options.”

The project was originally approved in 2010 as a five-story luxury hotel to be built on the west side of Main Street in Ketchum, between First and River streets. Highmark was granted its first extension in October 2011. The council has also approved several extensions to three other pending hotel development projects in the area that were approved before the economy tanked.

Councilman Jim Slanetz said that at some point the council needs to address its position on continually approving those extensions.

Hall said the hotel developers were sufficiently motivated to get their respective projects done just to see a return on their investments in purchasing the properties “and sitting on them for years.” He said the council did not need to motivate them further.

“I think you’re being practical and I recommend that you grant this extension,” said Doug Brown, director of the Wood River Economic Partnership.

Brennan Rego: brego@mtexpress.com




About Comments

Comments with content that seeks to incite or inflame may be removed.

Comments that are in ALL CAPS may be removed.

Comments that are off-topic or that include profanity or personal attacks, libelous or other inappropriate material may be removed from the site. Entries that are unsigned or contain signatures by someone other than the actual author may be removed. We will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or any other policies governing this site. Use of this system denotes full acceptance of these conditions. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.

The comments below are from the readers of mtexpress.com and in no way represent the views of Express Publishing, Inc.

You may flag individual comments. You may also report an inappropriate or offensive comment by clicking here.

Flagging Comments: Flagging a comment tells a site administrator that a comment is inappropriate. You can find the flag option by pointing the mouse over the comment and clicking the 'Flag' link.

Flagging a comment is only counted once per person, and you won't need to do it multiple times.

Proper Flagging Guidelines: Every site has a different commenting policy - be sure to review the policy for this site before flagging comments. In general these types of comments should be flagged:

  • Spam
  • Ones violating this site's commenting policy
  • Clearly unrelated
  • Personal attacks on others
Comments should not be flagged for:
  • Disagreeing with the content
  • Being in a dispute with the commenter

Popular Comment Threads



 Local Weather 
Search archives:


Copyright © 2014 Express Publishing Inc.   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

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.