The Ketchum Planning and Zoning Commission on Monday night signed off on a three-story, mixed-use development on the corner of First Avenue and Fourth Street.
The mixed-use project is proposed by developer Jack Bariteau, and will satisfy his obligation to construct employee housing for his pending Main Street hotel project. He has to supply 18 employee housing beds for the hotel project.
The mixed-use project on First Avenue, just south of Perry’s Restaurant, will include an underground parking garage, 6,456 square feet of commercial space, six employee housing units on the first floor, six on the second floor as well as six market-rate apartments, and four market-rate penthouse condominiums on the third floor.
The culinary institute proposed by Sun Valley Economic Development is intended to be a tenant in one of the building’s commercial spaces.
The commissioners voted 4-1 to approve the project’s design review Monday night. Commissioner Kurt Eggers voted in opposition. The commissioners also approved a lot-line shift and a vacation of a portion of the alley between First and Second avenues. The lot-line adjustment and alley vacation will have to be approved by the City Council.
The council will also have final say on the project’s development agreement, which will first be presented to the planning commissioners at their next meeting in June.
The project underwent some slight changes leading up to Monday’s meeting. Bariteau said it was changed so it would not have to seek a variance from the planning commissioners. He said the building height was lowered by 4 feet on the west side, which didn’t affect the diagram of the building or its size.
Michael McHugh with Pivot North Architecture said the building will mix mocha-colored metal panels on its eastern end with brick and lighter-colored facades on the western end. The building will use a construction material called cross-laminated timber, which is made from gluing together layers of lumber.
McHugh said it will be the first mixed-use building in Idaho to use CLT, and the designers added window boxes on the west end to help break up the view and add depth.
He said the alleyway vacation served a good purpose because it would benefit the building’s design. The alley vacation is only occurring between Bariteau’s property and neighbor Charles Holt’s property, which is just east of the parking lot for the post office.
Holt spoke to the commissioners and said he supported the vacation.
“I’m pleased with the way we’ve worked together on something that I think works for both parties,” Holt said.
However, neighbor Carol Thielen opposed the vacation, saying the alley is used for garbage removal and snow storage.
In a May 7 email to the planning commissioners, Thielen wrote that she was concerned Bariteau would demolish the existing buildings on First Avenue and leave another hole in the ground in downtown Ketchum.
“The parcel should remain intact until construction actually begins, not sit as a hole in the ground as is the case with the historic and now only a memory Trail Creek Village,” Thielen wrote. “It doesn’t benefit anyone to have a major parcel in the city core remain vacant.”
Other citizens opposed the project because of its visual impact.
“The proposed development by Mr. Bariteau is an eyesore,” Ketchum resident Sally Onetto wrote the P&Z on May 6. “There are few buildings with this heft, both in height and in depth, in our city. No balconies or stepped-back decks seem to be planned, just a hulk of a building at least one floor taller than anything nearby.”
Onetto asked why the city was willing to give the alley away. Planning Director John Gaeddert said the city’s process requires two parts—that the alley isn’t needed for transportation and that the vacation is in the public interest. He said the alley is covered in snow and used as snow storage in the winter.
“Staff believes this is in the public interest,” Gaeddert said. “Quality design is a key part of this.”
Commissioner Mattie Mead said pedestrians will still be able to use it as a public connector because of a stairwell between Bariteau’s project and the remaining alleyway.
He said he believed that vacating the alley also allows for access to the underground parking garage, which was a key benefit of the development overall.
“My feeling is that the alley vacation is a positive,” Mead said.
Commissioner Neil Morrow said the redevelopment of the lot adds public benefit through its property tax.
“Look at the potential increase in value,” Morrow said. “You have an increase in tax value.”
But Commissioner Kurt Eggers said the city shouldn’t give the alley away.
“We’re giving away something that’s public property entirely for private profit,” Eggers said.
Further, he said the city’s restrictions on height and building scale make Ketchum appealing to residents and visitors.
“It’s what makes Ketchum attractive,” he said. “There might be another way to accommodate access to that garage.”
Bariteau said the building is within the city’s maximum floor area ratio of 2.25. Its FAR is 1.9, he said. He said it also respects the city’s 15-foot setbacks.
“The 15-foot setback is something that is sacred to me, as well,” he said. “I’m really excited about the design of the building and all of the uses in it.”