An idea to expand the Snow Creek Center won accolades on Wednesday night during a City Hall meeting, an early endorsement from the panel that will eventually consider the expansion in much more detail if the developer moves forward with the project.
The Snow Creek Center is situated just off the high-traffic Park Avenue-Kearns Boulevard intersection. Few people use the moniker Snow Creek Center in regular conversation, but the shopping center is well known as the location of The Market at Park City grocery store, a state liquor store and a variety of restaurants.
The owner, known as Snow Creek Center, LLC, has engaged City Hall in discussions about a project that would add 17,700 square feet to the development. The project now includes 87,500 square feet, the majority being The Market at Park City. The current figure does not include the square footage in the state liquor store.
The Wednesday meeting of the Park City Planning Commission was the first substantive public discussion since an initial set of paperwork was filed at City Hall in April. The owner has not set a timeline for filing a formal application and a representative said Wednesday the designs are conceptual.
The idea involves putting up two new buildings. One would be east of the state liquor store and one would be west of the liquor store. The owner, meanwhile, is contemplating expanding one of the existing buildings at Snow Creek Center -- the one that now houses businesses like Teriyaki Grill and Cahoots.
The Planning Commission on Wednesday was upbeat as members spoke about the project, something that is uncommon for the panel early in discussions about a major project. The members told the development team the site could handle more square footage than exists there now.
They said, perhaps, the developers could consider adding residences to Snow Creek Center, which is currently exclusively commercial. There also seemed to be at least some indication that the Planning Commission would consider taller buildings than are there now. Mick Savage, a Planning Commissioner, said the site should be optimized.
"Go big or go home," Savage said.
Charlie Wintzer, another member of the Planning Commission, also spoke about the possibilities of taller buildings and said residences could work well at the location.
"I think it could be a really fantastic neighborhood," he said.
There has been little apparent interest from Parkites in the project. The Snow Creek Center portion of the meeting was sparsely attended. One person from the general public was in the audience to listen.
The upcoming discussions about Snow Creek Center, though, could eventually become more closely watched, particularly by the development community. It seems likely the project will be the first major test of a City Hall program created in 2011 that allows development rights to be transferred between some locations within the city limits.
Snow Creek Center was designated as what is called a receiving zone under the program. The so-called receiving zones like Snow Creek are places where leaders want to nudge additional growth beyond what would normally be permitted.
Developers in receiving zones must negotiate with owners in the places that were designated as sending zones under the program, or spots where City Hall would like to see less development than would be allowed typically.
Pete Gillwald, a consultant working for Snow Creek Center, said there are approximately 3,000 square feet of development rights remaining from the project's original approval in the 1990s. The 3,000 square feet that are left are not enough for the redevelopment as it is described, meaning that Snow Creek Center could attempt to tap the City Hall program for the additional square footage.
Gillwald said Snow Creek Center has not begun talking with landowners with development rights in sending zones. Deals would be negotiated in private.