Life on and off the waters of the Wood River Valley
Developer Jack Bariteau's influence on the look and feel of Sun Valley
Most people strolling down Sun Valley Road, may not know who Jack Bariteau is beyond being another friendly, familiar face in Ketchum.
But if any of these folks have been wandering down the most famous street in the Wood River Valley since the mid-nineties, they certainly know about Jack Bariteau’s work—and they’re more than likely thankful for it.
Jack Bariteau has long been considered a visionary for his work in the development field and some of the best examples of his efforts can be found smack dab in the heart of America’s original destination ski resort.
Originally from California, Bariteau has spent 35 years making a name for himself as a developer who could handle every phase of a project; from finding to designing and building and then successfully managing the properties.
Bariteau first visited Sun Valley during his college days in the early seventies and immediately “got hooked on the place,” as he puts it. “I went to every Western resort but I always came back here,” he said. “There’s just a magical element about this place.”
Bariteau’s first foray into local development came when he purchased the antiquated Colonnade shopping complex in 1997. His original thoughts of remodeling the deteriorating Sun Valley staple were quickly squashed when a structural engineer finished a tour of the property by stating, “You’ve got two options: Tear it down and tear it down.”
Seizing the opportunity to invigorate some new life—and style—into Sun Valley, Bariteau envisioned building a project on the property that would add a little urban flavor to the mountain town setting. The new Colonnade would not only offer retail spaces along the street, it would include a component usually associated more with cities than ski towns—upscale residential units above the retail, including penthouse suites.
Most locals thought the idea of blending commercial and high-end residential housing would never sell. But Bariteau believed the walk-ability of Ketchum—and it’s easy access to the ski slopes, hiking and biking trails, as well as the town’s great dining, gallery and shopping options—would make such housing appealing. It turns out he was right. When the new Colonnade opened in 1999, all of the commercial space was filled and the final residential unit was sold within six months.
“I’m a contrarian,” Bariteau explained. “When most people are going one way, I like to go the other.”
The Colonnade was soon followed by the purchase of the old Christiana motel. It, too, was torn down and replaced by a similar mixed-use building that also includes office space along with retail and residential—and was quickly filled as well. The undeniably successful projects not only replaced eyes sores with clean, modern properties, they also invigorated Sun Valley Road.
“They were not only good investments, but they made a positive change in Ketchum. They were good projects for the community,” Bariteau said, adding, “I’m a long term investment builder, not a merchant builder.”
Bariteau’s next project was 600 Second Street East in Ketchum just a couple blocks off Sun Valley Road. Another ambitious vision for a development, it brought very high-end residential townhomes and a “more contemporary look” to Ketchum, as he explained. Despite “Armageddon hitting,” as Bariteau referred to the recent national housing collapse, the property eventually sold out as well.
“There are some benefits to this so called ‘Armageddon,’” he said, explaining that the lower real estate prices are allowing more people, especially those of the younger demographic, to be able to afford to live in and around Sun Valley.
600 Second Street East even includes a community/affordable housing unit that meets Blaine County Housing Authority standards and has been filled since day one. But that wasn’t the only community benefit from the project; one of Ketchum’s former snow storage lots has been remodeled into a year-round public pocket park nestle within the complex called Lucy Loken Park. Walnut Avenue, which leads to the park, was also redone as part of the project and radiant heat was added to the short right-of-way, meaning the town of Ketchum doesn’t have the expense of plowing it anymore.
Just as Bariteau was putting the finishing touches on this project, he became the first local developer to get approval to build something just about every ski town in the West is fighting for, a brand new five-star hotel. In 2008, the Trail Creek Fund LLC, for which Bariteau serves as the managing member, was granted approval for “Hotel Ketchum.” The 80 room hotel planned for the Trail Creek Village lot (which used to be home to Chandler’s restaurant at the southern entrance to Ketchum) has been on hold because of the constraints of capital investments, both locally and nationally, for such developments, but it paved the way for similar projects to get approved at River Run and Warm Springs Ranch.
And even though Hotel Ketchum is still on hold, Bariteau believes it will not only happen—he’s still working on securing its financing—but that it will have a huge, positive impact on the Valley.
“In my view there is no project that will have a more profound impact on our Sun Valley economy than the construction of the Hotel Ketchum. It will create 80 to 100 construction jobs for two years and probably 75 to 90 full and seasonal jobs once the hotel is opened,” Bariteau said. “We are desperately under-roomed and can accommodate 500 or more four and five star rooms easily without putting a dent into future demand. The approved hotels will make us competitive with our direct resort competition.”
Bariteau’s latest vision involves the Village Green project at the Valley Club. Like numerous developments throughout the country, parts of the private golf course and residential complex just north of Hailey have had a tough run of it recently. Bariteau and the Streamside Associates LLC have purchased the final 30 lots, and in so doing they’ve spent the last couple of years straightening out some sticky water and financial issues.
Now called “Streamside,” the project will include spacious, ready-to-build lots for exceptional initial values that will house all-season bungalow-style homes offering great viewsheds and surround what Bariteau calls an “art stream” and a “commons” green space.
“It’s a very unique project. You can’t find anything else like this in the Valley,” Bariteau declared, as he shared his passion for his latest vision.
“Buildings influence people, good or bad, without them even realizing it, “ Bariteau said. “I want to build things that impact people positively.”
As for the key to his success, Bariteau simply advised, “You really have to believe that you’re going to be successful.”
This story orignally appeared in the Fall Home issue of Sun Valley Magazine.