There are several reasons for Ketchum to deny PEG Capital’s recent PUD application for a proposed Marriott portfolio hotel at the intersection of Ketchum’s Main and River streets. Public comment and letters to the commission have questioned the developer’s need for waivers regarding hotel height, setback, lot size and floor-area ratios, its biased reports regarding parking and traffic impacts and other misleading comments. They have also questioned whether waivers are outdated. I agree with all those concerns, which boil down to one point: Although the developer presents as “sensitive” to the community, the most sensitive action would be to build within the community guidelines set for the property they chose to buy. And this is what the Planning and Zoning Commission could rightly approve.
Even then, questions about the developer’s perception of Ketchum community needs remain. Why another hotel—one with its own restaurant and (rooftop) bar—that aims to market to tourists and be an architectural landmark? We pride our landmarks for being historic—not representing international chains.
We currently have a 40 percent hotel occupancy rate. Service employees are impossible to come by for existing businesses. We already have restaurants and bars that should not have to compete with an international corporation.
Finally, we don’t need a hotel that positions itself for tourism. (In fact, tourists would be inside the hotel before even seeing a Ketchum street). The community has been warned for two decades by hired economic experts that we need to build more diversity into our economy and avoid the tourism focus if we want to sustain our quality of life. It’s time to start listening and act accordingly.
Jima Rice, Blaine County