Next door to Greg Schirf's Wasatch Brew Pub, at the top of Main Street, sits a parking lot long ago dubbed the Brew Pub lot.
It is a public lot, controlled by City Hall even with the name associating it with Schirf's restaurant-bar. It is nice to have so much parking steps from the Wasatch Brew Pub's front door, but Schirf said he would prefer there be something else there -- the terminal of a gondola linking Main Street and Deer Valley Resort.
In the three-plus weeks since Deer Valley publicized an idea to build a gondola from the slopes to Main Street, there has been chatter on the street about the concept. There seems to be support from the various interest groups on the street even without details being known.
Deer Valley has not made a formal proposal, and numerous decisions need to be made before one would advance. The locations of both terminals need to be finalized. The eventual design could bypass the Brew Pub lot in favor of another terminal location.
"It would add some excitement and panache to Main Street," Schirf said.
He said a Deer Valley gondola, with a terminal in the Brew Pub lot, would be especially attractive to his restaurant-bar. It would be a worthwhile trade to lose some of the parking spaces in the lot in favor of a gondola terminal, he said.
"I think it'd be good for all of Main Street. I think it'd be good for Park City's tax base," Schirf said.
Deer Valley surprised many in mid-July when it said it was exploring options to build a gondola between the resort and Main Street. Many details have not been decided, but the resort said it was researching approximately six alignments. Bob Wheaton, the president and general manager of Deer Valley, said in July building a gondola between the resort and Main Street would be a "significant event" for Deer Valley and wider Park City.
A terminal at the Brew Pub lot seems to be of interest. The location would give Deer Valley Main Street frontage, and a gondola to the lot would presumably be shorter in distance than one to the lower part of Main Street. City Hall, meanwhile, owns the Brew Pub lot land. Park City leaders could be more willing to negotiate with Deer Valley than if the land was held in the private sector.
Deer Valley sees a potential Main Street gondola as something that would boost both the resort and Park City's wider economy. Park City Mountain Resort has operated the Town Lift, with a terminal on lower Main Street, for years. If Deer Valley builds a gondola to the upper reaches of the street, the Town Lift and the gondola would bookend Main Street with connections to the resorts. There is not another place in North America with downtown links to two mountain resorts, the resort has said.
The Historic Park City Alliance, a group that represents businesses on or close to Main Street, has not discussed the concept in any depth. Draft minutes of an April 17 meeting of the group's board of directors, though, indicate the alliance was aware Deer Valley was considering options nearly two months before the idea was widely publicized. The draft minutes mention Silver Lake as a potential terminal on the Deer Valley side.
The minutes show there was a discussion about funding the gondola. They indicated Alison Butz, who is the group's executive director, and Mike Sweeney, whose family has interests on lower Main Street, told the board of directors Deer Valley would pay rather than the alliance or City Hall.
In an interview, Butz said the group is "excited about the prospects" after discussing it at the earlier meeting.
"It was favorable, positive. It's so rare to have resorts connected to centers of town," Butz said.
The alliance and City Hall have been discussing an idea to build a plaza in the Brew Pub lot. That concept would be dramatically altered if a gondola is put there. Deer Valley has said the earliest a gondola could open, if one is pursued, is the 2014-2015 ski season. A series of agreements and approvals would be needed to be finalized before construction could start, probably between City Hall and Deer Valley.
Andy Beerman, a City Councilman who is an owner and a manager of the Treasure Mountain Inn, across Main Street from the Brew Pub lot, said he backs the idea and acknowledged that a gondola terminal in the lot would be beneficial to the inn.
Beerman said other terminal locations in Old Town that could be explored in place of the Brew Pub lot include the Sandridge parking lot, a site close to the Old Town transit center and a locale close to the runaway truck lane on Marsac Avenue.
"It's going to draw people in both directions. Balance is good," he said.