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The proposed Ketchum Tribute Hotel would have 92 hotel rooms, meeting rooms, a restaurant and two bars. It is designed to step up the slope of the approximately one-acre property at 251 S. Main St., across River Street from the existing Limelight Hotel.

A 92-room, Marriott-affiliated hotel planned for a site on the southern side of Ketchum’s downtown core is one step closer to final approval from the city.

In a largely procedural action, the Ketchum City Council on Tuesday voted 3-1 to approve the “findings of fact, conclusions of law and order of decision” linked to a series of unanimous votes on Feb. 1 to approve development plans for the approximately 130,000-square-foot Ketchum Tribute Hotel project. The documents describe the council’s actions and reasoning in approving the project. Councilman Jim Slanetz—who had previously expressed concern about waivers to the zoning code in the application but voted to approve the development plans—voted against certifying the findings and decision.

The vote finalizes the City Council’s approval of several elements of Utah-based PEG Co.'s application to develop the hotel on three parcels at an approximately one-acre site at 251 S. Main St., on the southwest corner of Main and River streets, immediately south of the Limelight Hotel. However, the developer must still gain approval of the project’s specific design elements from the Planning and Zoning Commission, as well as City Council approval of a formal development agreement, which sets the terms and timeline of construction.

The council’s Feb. 1 votes approved a floodplain permit, a lot-line adjustment and a planned-unit development agreement/conditional-use permit, or PUD. A PUD is a detailed governing plan to develop a site, as an alternative to developing strictly under the regulations of the underlying zoning district. The city allows PUDs for certain large sites to afford flexibility in development, with the goal of achieving a project that is ultimately better than what could be allowed under existing zoning. The development site next to Trail Creek is in the city’s Tourist zoning district, which allows hotels but under different regulations than the immediately adjacent Community Core zoning district.

In the project application, waivers were requested—and approved—for a minimum lot size to have a PUD, setback requirement, floor-area ratio (a measurement of density), height and the number of stories. The four-story hotel is designed to gradually climb up the sloping site, with a maximum height of 72 feet above grade and a height of 48 feet at River Street—while resting about 25 feet lower than the Limelight Hotel.

Plans—as outlined in the PUD—call for providing 23 beds of on-site employee housing in a mix of suites and studios on lower levels, as well as a public restaurant and bar at street level, meeting spaces and a rooftop bar and patio area. The public would have access to the property and to Trail Creek. An underground parking garage would include at least seven parking stalls for the public, in addition to parking for guests and staff.

In a public hearing Tuesday, Ketchum resident Perry Boyle referred to previous public opposition to the project—in part because of its size—in asking the City Council to prevent it from moving forward. He said approval of the project “defies the will of the electorate.”

“This whole thing makes no sense,” Boyle said.

Slanetz asked city officials about specifics of approving—or denying—waivers, before ultimately voting against approval of the findings and decision.

The planned four-star, full-service hotel has now been approved twice by the city. After extensive city review of the project in 2019 and early 2020, the approval process had to be terminated and started again because of a city noticing error. Several approvals—including the PUD, but not all—had been granted. The project was remanded to the P&Z, which approved it a second time before the City Council’s second approval.

PEG describes the Tribute Portfolio of hotels as “a family of independent boutique hotels” that are linked to Marriott and use the Marriott reservation system but do “not necessarily resemble a traditional Marriott hotel.”

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