Mountain Town News |

Mountain Town News

Ketchum city officials are hearing a pitch for what is described as a high-end, service-oriented hotel with more than 200 rooms. The project, says the Idaho Mountain Express, is among nine different hotels currently pending review.The town has actively solicited hotel developers. Although located at the foot of the Sun Valley ski area, making it the first destination ski resort in the United States, the town has experienced no growth or declining tourism in recent years.Matt Cosgriff, an agent with Sotheby’s International Reality, one of the project partners, said Ketchum badly needs such a hotel – and maybe two or three. “If the city approves it with enough rooms to make it work economically, this thing will be built, and quickly. It’s the real deal,” he said.

Several weeks ago, the effort to raise $50 million for purchase of land at the town’s entrance, to ensure it remains in open space, seemed to be falling just a few million short. And, said the Town Council, no white knight was waiting in the weeds, ready to ride to the rescue.Well, in fact, there was. A Hollywood movie director and producer, Tom Shayac, contributed the final $2 million, allowing the town to complete its condemnation of the land. Shayac first visited Telluride for Mountainfilm, and returned for that and other film festivals, although he owns no property there.The community has collected everything from nickels to million-dollar donations since a jury in February ruled that the 570 acres at the town’s entrance was worth $50 million. Among those helping raise money was Meg Whitman, chief executive officer of eBay and owner of the Skyline Guest Ranch. While fundraisers in most cases expect 15 percent of pledges not to be met, in this case virtually all the IOUs were collected.Landowner Neal Blue, chief executive of General Atomic, continues to fight the condemnation; he is appealing the case to the Colorado Supreme Court.

The Jackson Town Council has refused to enact a ban on smoking in public places. The proposal would have included not only businesses, but also all parks and outdoor facilities such as baseball fields, reports the Jackson Hole News&Guide.Councilor Melissa Turley said she “votes with her feet” by not patronizing the three remaining bars in Teton County that still allow smoking. No restaurants allow smoking.Larry Hartnett told councilors it’s also a matter of principles. “I am not a smoker, and I don’t like going into places where there is smoke, but one thing I am particularly fond of is freedom,” he told the council.The Teton County Board of Public Health is mulling the idea of classifying tobacco smoke as a toxic substance. The legality of that declaration is being explored.

Sports stadiums have the names of corporate sponsors, so why shouldn’t ski gondolas?That’s the thinking at Whistler, where ski area operator Intrawest has retained a company to find a sponsor for the $51 million gondola that will bridge the Whistler and Blackcomb ski areas, setting several records for length and height in the process.”In our mind, the Peak to Peak Gondola will be recognized as an engineering marvel and a true landmark, much like a Golden Gate Bridge or CN Tower,” said Brad Pelletier, vice president and managing director of IMG Canada, the firm hired to find a sponsor.

Developers of the Revelstoke Mountain Resort have purchased Selkirk Tangiers Heli-skiing. The Revelstoke Times Review notes that the company has also acquired CAT Powder Skiing, the main cat-skiing operation in the area.

Banff continues to debate whether to enact regulations limiting franchise retailers. The current debate was spurred by the announcement that a national franchise bookseller planned to set up shop in Banff, causing fears that it will elbow out a longtime local dealer.Some residents believe that franchises weaken Banff’s individuality as a resort. “The homogenization of the western world has been evolving for the better part of 40 years,” writes Grant Trammell of Banff in the Rocky Mountain Outlook. “Banff is feeling the weight now, more than ever.”While some favor a blanket ban, others urge review on a case-by-case basis, based on the track record of the candidate franchise. But Don Kendal, one of Banff’s most prominent landlords, urges no restrictions. Already, he said, businesses are favoring the downvalley town of Canmore, 15 miles away.

Falling real estate prices in the major metropolitan areas are starting to affect the market for housing in Durango and La Plata County. The Durango Area Association of Realtors reports the median price of homes sold there dropped 1 percent in the year’s first quarter.Don Ricedorff, a real estate broker at The Wells Group in Durango, told the Durango Herald that the local market was being influenced by weakening markets in Phoenix, Southern California and other places. Many home buyers must sell their houses elsewhere before buying in Durango, he explained.Real-estate brokers believe that prices will soon begin marching upward again, partly because of more restrictive development policies expected of new city and county officials.

The Ginn Co. promises it will minimize lighting if it gets approval to build 1,700 housing units, plus a golf course and a small ski area. The project location is between the towns of Minturn and Red Cliff, on the southwest side of the Vail ski area.Ginn Co. officials tell the Vail Daily that state-of-the-art lighting fixtures would focus the light toward the ground, and computers would be programmed to limit the amount of that time that light shines from homes. “People come to Colorado for the environment, and we want them to be able to see the stars,” said company spokesman Cliff Thompson.Nancy Clanton, a lighting designer from Boulder, says development is compatible with dark skies. She cited Bachelor Gulch, located at Beaver Creek, as an example of how dark skies can be preserved. Allen Best compiles Mountain Town News. He can be reached at

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