Ketchum’s Planning and Zoning met Tuesday to consider a proposal to add a new four-star hotel to the main gateway to the resort town. The Ketchum Tribute would sit at the corner of River St. and Main St., to the south of the Limelight Hotel. The project is across from the stalled Auberge Resort Hotel project.
The Marriott-affiliated project would add a 92-room hotel. The presentation Tuesday focused on public amenities and benefits. Justin Heppler of AJC Architects noted a rooftop bar, a restaurant, conference meeting space and pedestrian-friendly changes in his presentation.
“A select-service hotel that might otherwise end up on this site is not going to have generally the public meeting space, public dining space, (it) definitely wouldn’t have two bars and its not going to have a four-star level of service,” he said. “So some of the amounts of density manipulation is allowing us to provide a hotel that brings that full-service component to the city of Ketchum.”
The hotel project will also provide housing for 23 employees.
Building during COVID-19
Brought up at the previous meeting was concerns relating to building a hotel during a pandemic.
“Ketchum was so busy this summer, we felt like this project will help provide (rooms) for those crowds. Rather than being a crowd problem or a crowd generator,” Heppler said. ”People are going to come to cities like Ketchum we think on an increased level, probably for a while well beyond the fact the completion date of this hotel.”
[‘There’s no affordable housing’: Essential workers face big housing challenges in Idaho resort community]
As BoiseDev reported, the Ketchum area saw mixed results on collection of local option taxes over the summer, with some categories increasing and others decreasing during the pandemic.
“Psychologically it just affects the way people travel and they’re going to be going to more drive to destinations,” Heppler said. “We’re finding mountain retreat properties are very very very busy right now.”
Community member input
Several members of the community have rejected the new hotel from the start of the project. Even though there is a large list of community benefits and several adjustments to the overall project have been made.
Harry Griffith of Sun Valley Economic Development called in to respond to the community’s complaints about the hotel.
“We have commented on this project before,” he said. “So I’m not going to talk about the 40 full-time jobs it creates in our community. I’m not going to talk about the (23) urgently needed associated employee housing units. I’m not going to talk about the $1.6 billion dollars in economic value this project brings over 10 years. I do want to talk about however why this project is relevant in a post covid world… I believe it serves a loyal customer base who will use it year-round reducing the seasonality in our community which is critical for businesses to survive. I believe it will take the pressure off of the short-term rental market.”
The Planning and Zoning Commission will review findings of fact and the permit for the hotel at its November 10th meeting. If it approves the project, it would move on to Ketchum City Council.