Fourth and Main mixed-use project (copy)

A proposed Fourth and Main mixed-use project in Ketchum would include 17 residences, four retail units and a central common area, along a block of Main Street between Fourth and Fifth streets.

The developer of a proposed block-long, 59,000-square-foot mixed-use building on Main Street in downtown Ketchum has appealed to the City Council for a new decision after the Planning and Zoning Commission denied the project last month.

Utah-based Solstice Development is seeking approval of a set of applications to construct a four-story, 48-foot-tall residential and commercial structure on four lots between Fourth and Fifth streets. The project—on the east side of Main Street, in a block including so-called “Hot Dog Hill” and the former location of Formula Sports—would include 12 market-rate condominium units, five workforce-housing units, four ground-level retail units, a common area and 17 parking spaces. The building is designed to be three stories and 37 feet tall along Main Street.

The City Council will have the options of approving the project, denying it or remanding it back to the P&Z for reconsideration. The city has not yet set a date for the City Council’s review of the applications.

The P&Z denied approval of the Fourth and Main development on Feb. 9, with some objections that the building would be too large and would not fit Ketchum’s “character.”

Developer Chris Ensign told the P&Z in February that the project offers a “trifecta” of benefits: storefronts, residences and workforce housing.

“This is the perfect product for a downtown core,” he said in February.

But a city staff report to the P&Z cited several reasons why the project does not meet the city’s standards. It stated that the building “ignores local context,” would “diminish Ketchum’s vibrant, small-town character,” “will exacerbate the gentrification and homogenization of downtown Ketchum” and “needs significant design changes.”

Solstice Development submitted a set of three applications to the city, after having the project reviewed four times last year in the city’s “pre-application design review” process, in which developers can have plans reviewed and commented on before they submit a formal development application. The design of the building was changed substantially during the process.

The applications for design review, a lot-line shift to remove the internal lot lines and a plat for the residences were all denied by the P&Z. The P&Z alone conducts the design-review approval. The denials of the lot-line shift and plat applications were recommendations to the City Council.

Before the P&Z’s 4-1 vote, Ensign said he felt he was “being held to a different standard” than other developers. He said the city would be making a mistake to reject a project that offers community housing for local workers.

“Rome’s burning behind you because you don’t have the workforce housing,” he said, asserting that the city was not following its comprehensive plan, its guiding land-use document.

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