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Warm Springs Building Proposal Draws on Ketchum’s Mining Heritage
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Tuesday, April 23, 2024
 

BY KAREN BOSSICK

A mine shaft elevator paying homage to Ketchum’s mining heritage would rise in Warm Springs if a project currently known as the Baldy Mountain House Project is approved.

The mixed-use building on the site of the Hot Water Inn and the former Baldy Base Camp would include a restaurant, retail space, pool, short-term rentals and condominiums that could be managed and rented out so that they don’t sit vacant during Christmas should the owners decided to spend Christmas in Hawaii.

It would include onsite parking.

“We’re not building the Ramada Inn here,” project developer Brian Barsotti told nearly a hundred people who gathered at the Hot Water Inn this past week to see the plans. “We just want life here. We want you to understand what we’re doing because there’s always some fear of the unknown.”

Barsotti plied attendees with pizza, beer and old film clips showing the skiing and apres ski scene in Warm Springs during the 1970s.

Barsotti built Baldy Base Camp in 1982, and for a while it was jamming with a restaurant, PK’s sports store, post office and general store. But Barsotti tore it down in 2007.

Much of the action in the Warm Springs area of Baldy died off as focus shifted to the River Run side of the mountain. Additionally, the advent of a high-speed chairlift in 1988 meant that skiers no longer needed to ski all day long to get all the turns they wanted.

Barsotti said he hopes the new project would restore life to the Warm Springs neighborhood.

The project has been submitted to the City of Ketchum for design and review, but no date has been set, he said. But he wanted to let the public know what was being considered to quash rumors.

Barsotti noted that he had tried years ago to build a Bald Mountain Lodge that featured just three floors, each with setbacks, ending in a clocktower at top so those coming into town could still see Bald Mountain. But the hotel with its Hemingway theme was rejected during a period of anti-growth—Barsotti said he even got death threats over it.

Eventually, the larger, taller Limelight Hotel was built on that site.

Sun Valley Resort officials have said they have no plans to build a hotel in the Warm Springs area, only a downhill course to host the 2025 World Cup, Barsotti said.

“I’ve owned this property for 40 years and I’m thinking it’s time. We’ve got the World Cup coming and that’s going to have a significant impact on Warm Springs. During July when it’s really busy in town it’s really nice out here. There’s always some place to park.”

Barsotti said a consultant from Microsoft told him that there’s always going to be a few people from companies like Microsoft who want to come work in a place like Sun Valley for two weeks or two months at a time. In that vein, the project would feature a meeting room and a zoom room for such employees to work.

“I don’t want to do a box, and what I see in town is all these boxes. We looked at old mining town buildings for designs, and we’ve broken the building up. I live in Warm Springs and I want to do something nice. It’s going to cost more to build this way, but it’s going to be here a long time.”

Barsotti said a traffic study will have to be done but he doesn’t think the project would impact traffic much considering that many of users would be using the bus.

He added that he would like to investigate the use of hot water that lies underground in the area. A well that once sat under the Hot Water Inn was filled in years ago.

“What I’m proposing is not the best use of property economically—I’d make far more money building  luxury condos,” he said. “But I’m trying to so something that creates some energy, some activity. Obviously, it won’t be ready for the 2025 World Cup but we could be ready for the 2027 World Cup. We’ve got to see where we go with this with the city.”

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