The developers behind a mixed-use building a block from Main Street have completed the city’s review process and are set to begin planning for construction, as the Planning and Zoning Commission advanced the project at 200 N. Leadville Ave. past final design review by a slim 3-2 margin on Tuesday.
Commissioners Neil Morrow, Brenda Moczygemba and Susan Passovoy voted in favor of the project, while Commissioners Spencer Cordovano and Tim Carter voted “nay.”
“We can argue all day long about what the benefit of these condominiums are going to be to the town, but, in regards to the current code language, the applicant has responded to what’s allowable in a nice fashion,” Moczygemba said.
That was in response to a claim by Cordovano that the market-rate residential units are not providing enough of a benefit to the town to warrant the exceedances to the standard floor-area ratio granted to the project. Floor-area ratio is calculated by dividing the total area of the building by the area of the land parcel, and is used to understand how much development is planned for a parcel. The base floor-area-ratio in Ketchum is 1.0—any development that goes above that must make community-housing contributions, either in building units or paying a fee to the city to fund future affordable projects.
Cordovano asked if the applicant had considered including community housing instead of paying the “in lieu” fee that the city allows as an alternative. The fee for this project, calculated based on the size of the building, is $411,000.
Developer Mike Carr, speaking for the applicants, said that they seriously considered it, but that the numbers didn’t pencil. Cordovano cited that as a major reason for his “no” vote.
Carter, who spoke openly on the positives and negatives of this project throughout the deliberation, said he ultimately voted no because he wanted to represent concerns he had heard from the community.
“I want the record to show the struggle the commission had with this project and that we’ve heard the community’s concerns about the continued bulk and mass of many new projects,” he said.
Public comment included thoughts from plenty of supporters and opponents of the project, slated for part of the block between Second Street and Sun Valley Road along Leadville.
Ketchum resident David Hutchinson was one of many people—members of the public and commissioners included—to voice concern with the north wall of the building, a windowless brick facade with some artistic elements designed to reduce the uninterrupted mass.
“If you’re walking down the street from Sun Valley Road, think of how intrusive this wall is going to be,” he said. “I hope the bulk, flatness, scale and [lack of] compatibility with the neighborhood gives you guys some pause.”
Carr countered, saying trees in full bloom in the summer will block much of that face of the building, and that most people who walk down the street won’t be scrutinizing the project with as much intensity as the people at the hearing.
“When you walk on the sidewalk, you don’t look back 80 feet. You [will] probably look at the first 40 feet of this building. And so we cover the first 50% or 60% of the building with [different] material and the trellis to break it up,” he said. “So, I mean, it’s pretty dang nice looking.
Kechum resident Jeff Swanson said he thinks the north wall will end up blending into the rest of the neighborhood once development continues.
“I think all of this is [overshadowing] the retail aspect of the project, which is tremendous, and will help create more of a walkable community,” he said.
The commissioners discussed whether this widens the scope of the city’s downtown core, as the ground floor of the building will have three retail units. They also debated whether scale of the building is out of line with the smaller structures around it, or if its proximity to Main Street makes it appropriate to bring a large, multi-use structure to the lot. Ultimately, Moczygemba and Morrow thought the project improves the downtown cityscape. After some deliberation, Passovoy agreed.
“I’m very sympathetic to all of Spencer’s points, and I wish we could get more [affordable] housing out of projects like this,” Passovoy said. “I understand that this will set a precedent for how this area is developed, and I think that just in terms of design review, it’s a gorgeous building.”
Before the eventual successful motion to advance the building through design review, Cordovano unsuccessfully moved to reject the application. No other commissioner seconded the motion.
The building includes three above ground floors and a below grade level. The below grade level is mostly storage, with one small residential unit that measures 682 gross square feet. The ground floor features three commercial units, measuring between 340 and 540 gross square feet. Also on the ground floor are four residence parking spots, which are hidden in an alley off of Second Street.
The second floor has two residential units, one at 2,796 gross square feet and one at 822 gross square feet. The larger of the two units has a deck that overlooks the southwest corner of the building.
The third floor contains a 3,676-square-foot penthouse, which has a large balcony that hangs over the west side of the building. Above that is the roof, which has a fire pit, hot tub and picnic table. The penthouse and roof were a source of controversy because of an elevator shaft that extends ten feet higher than the roof, which one public commenter challenged as accommodating the penthouse owner at the expense of the rest of the town. Nicole Ramey of Medici Architects, retained for this project, said the elevator will be used by all residents of the building, and that the 10-foot extension is allowed within the code.
Other changes since the last discussion include stepping back the third floor on the Leadville Avenue side by 4 feet, extending the third-floor deck to the north end of the building, moving the building back from the north property line 7 inches to allow for additional brick detailing and architectural treatments on the north façade, raising the parapet wall on the rear portion of the building 16 inches, adding a metal railing to the east end of the façade along Second Street and adding a wall trellis on the north façade to facilitate climbing vines from the ground floor to the rooftop deck.
The last step before building can begin is to obtain a building permit.
Morrow explained why he thought the project was ready to break ground, despite still having reservations about its size.
“If we could shrink the sizes of the buildings [that people are submitting] and make them more livable, we would,” he said. “But it’s just not possible with what is getting built downtown now.” ￼
Post a comment as anonymous
Watch this discussion.
I think the white brick (?) on the southeast corner will keep Howie rolling in his grave, and I'll think of that ever time I pass. R.I.P. Ketchum Realty.
I've said this in numerous comments about how bias the city is in the approval processes that should be fair and follow codes as written. But that isn't how this city government works. They change the rules for things they personally want (the Marriott Hotel and Bluebird) and complicate things they don't want even if they are 100% by code (the Hotdog Hill development.) Follow the zoning codes. If you want developers to building workforce housing, get rid of the buyout. But if you are appointed to the P&Z, and instead of doing the job your assigned to in favor of a political statement, get off the Board because you are not doing your duty as stipulated in the rules of the Board.
The City Council gave this developer a windfall and got nothing in return for it. SNAFU is the original sense. By passing the “interim” ordinance that limits apartments in the core to 3000sf they created a premium for units greater than that size. This project will have the last apartment greater than 3000sf to be built in the commercial core. The council turned a horse into a unicorn—for free. Spencer is right — the City should have gotten more from this project. But Ms Moczygemba is also right—it conforms to the code. The code is bad. Everyone knows the code is bad. But instead of following the right process to amend the code, the Council tweaks it with questionable changes in footnotes to tables. They refuse to embark on the usual process of updating the Comprehensive Plan and using an updated plan to do a zoning code rewrite. They intend to just skip to the code rewrite based on a plan from 10 years ago. Why? Are they that afraid they they will lose control of the process to the people who live in Ketchum? As Ms Breen said, it doesn’t matter what people want, they got elected and will decide. There is a city council election in a November. Time for some new people who will actually consider quality of life for people who live and work in Ketchum. Spencer—you don’t like the zoning code? Run for Council and change it. Otherwise we are stick with it he people who are selling out Ketchum and turning it into Aspen.
Another major necessity for the future is to have election run-offs when candidates do not achieve more than 50% of the popular vote. Y'know, like is done in most democracies....
Welcome to the discussion.