Island Park officials gave the go ahead Thursday night for zoning of an 111-room Marriott SpringHill Suites Hotel at the former Mack’s Inn site.
The original log-style inn burned down in 1989. It was replaced with a smaller inn that was removed in June.
Hotel general manager Robin Beard said the approval from the Island Park Planning and Zoning Committee allows them to submit plans to the city to start building this fall. The property was purchased by a Utah-based company Ensign Hospitality which will operate the Marriott hotel.
“We’re hoping to get our footings in as quickly as possible,” Beard said. “At least get that much done this fall. And if our winter is slow, we can do some work, but most likely we’ll have to do the majority of it next spring.”
Island Park Planning and Building Administrator Jeffrey Patlovich said Thursday’s meeting approved the commercial zoning for the property and the next step will be for the company to get architectural plans approved so that construction can begin.
“They expect to submit the building permit plans on the 21st of this month,” he said.
Patlovich said the original hotel plans had to be adjusted from a height of 50 feet to 35 feet because of limitations with the town’s fire trucks and “the height of the highest ladder.”
Beard said the hotel will offer some amenities the old Mack’s Inn couldn’t.
“We’ll have a nice indoor pool, hot tub, exercise facility, a nice continental breakfast,” she said.
The owners plan on building a new restaurant that serves pizza and ice cream similar to the old facility. “We are required to build a new building (for the restaurant) because the old one can’t be brought up to code,” Beard said.
The facility will continue to offer boat rentals and shuttle service for those interested in floating the nearby Henry’s Fork. Plans also include beautifying the river frontage area with a public-access dock that runs the distance of the property.
“Right now it’s just a dirt path with a dock in shambles,” Beard said. “A lot of it floated away last year before we bought the property.”
Two public worries brought up during planning and zoning meetings concerned the look of the new hotel and public access to the river and private homes during construction. Patlovich said those concerns have been addressed.
Some people wanted a new log structure to replace the old Mack’s Inn. Patlovich said the city requires these types of buildings to adhere to a certain look.
“We’re trying to retain to the extent that you can the old Island Park lodge look for commercial buildings,” he said. “It’s not going to be 100 percent what it used to look like 50 or 60 years ago. Our guidelines allow them to use other materials that are current today. We just ask them to make the exterior and color look like the historical buildings that we have up here.”
Beard said commercial log structures wouldn’t meet fire codes, but that the new hotel would “look as ‘lodgy’ as we can and still remain within the building code.”
Public access to the river is not changing, other than improving it, she said. Plans call for the hotel company to develop 20 new parking stalls for public use adjacent to Forest Service land.
The new hotel is expected to take more than a year to build.