Home & Design June 28, 2016
Building Boom
New Construction Brings Vibrancy to the Valley

The crane towering over the Limelight Hotel symbolizes a renaissance for Ketchum’s downtown real estate.

The $35 million hotel’s 108 guests rooms, scheduled to open in December 2016, are expected to bring business to town. Its 14 residences are emblematic of a burgeoning interest in living downtown.

Three mixed-use projects point to that trend.

Lyn Stallard vacated her tanning salon in April to make way for a project with commercial space on the bottom and residences on the top two floors. Dr. Ben Franz has a similar project in the works and a third is going up on Sun Valley Road near Zions Bank.

“This indicates that people want to be in town, which will help make downtown Ketchum vibrant. It’s exciting for us because they’re all nice projects,” said Micah Austin, Ketchum’s director of planning and building.

The Auberge Resort Sun Valley Hotel, which will feature 62 rooms and 14 residences, is going up across the street from the Limelight Hotel. It’s expected to open in 2018.

A farm-to-table restaurant is being completed on Washington Street and a conference center is expanding at the site of what was Zinc Restaurant.

The Ketchum Innovation Center is expanding into the old Ketchum Post Office. The new owner of Bigwood Golf Course plans to remodel the clubhouse and, possibly, add mountain bike trails. And a new nine-unit townhouse development is starting up at Thunder Spring.

The commercial investments mark a turnaround from recent years when nearly all building was residential, said Austin.

But residential building hasn’t subsided—and the residences being built are innovative.

One Knob Hill residence sports a wavy, or warped, roof that slopes on one side with the same configuration repeated on the other side, except in reverse.

Homeowners spent a quarter-million dollars and a month taking a jackhammer to the rock in the hillside behind their home on Knob Hill to create a 16-foot retaining wall.

And a home being built in a floodplain in West Ketchum has been elevated so homeowners can walk underneath.

Recycled barn wood and other natural materials are hot, indicating an emphasis on green construction.

“All these guys go way beyond the minimum building code standard so we don’t have to babysit them at all,” said Ketchum Building Inspector Jim Lynch. “And it’s like there’s an architectural war going on to show what they can do.”

“I love being an inspector here,” added Ketchum Building Inspector Jeff Egan. “Ketchum is a proving ground for alternative methods and technology and the use of the best, most innovative products. And the craftsmanship is the best I’ve seen.”

There are also plenty of remodels. Among them: Community School’s makeover of the three-story Smith Sport Optics building into a student dormitory accommodating 50 students and an athletic training center. Planned opening: August 2016.

“I’ve never seen a community that does so many remodels—people just seem to like to tinker with their toys,” said Lynch. “Many may not change the footprint of the house but they completely revamp the interior.”

Hailey, too, is seeing plenty of activity. King’s department store continues to move forward with its 8,139-square-foot expansion. Natural Grocers is leveling two lots south of McDonald’s for a 15,000-square-foot building that could be augmented by a 7,500-square-foot retail building in the future. And work has resumed on The Cottages senior care facility, which broke ground across from Albertsons last fall.

Meanwhile, the Animal Shelter of the Wood River Valley plans to launch a public campaign this summer to replace its 33-year-old shelter with a new campus on 20 acres of flat land in Croy Canyon. The shelter hopes to break ground in s`pring 2017, said Brooke Bonner, the shelter’s associate director.

The City of Hailey also plans to address bike lanes, sidewalks and other projects this summer to help make the community safer and more vibrant, said Hailey’s Community Development Director Lisa Horowitz.

“It may take some trial and error—some things may work and some may not. But you don’t know until you try,” said Jeff Bacon, membership director for the Hailey Chamber of Commerce.

This article appears in the Summer 2016 Issue of Sun Valley Magazine.