The Imperial Hotel, a historic property for sale along the upper reaches of Main Street, is being marketed as a house rather than a lodging property, something that leaves open the possibility that the building will not return to Park City's lineup of small hotels and inns.
The building, located at 221 Main St., has been shuttered since before the recession. It last operated as a hotel in 2006. The property was part of a portfolio acquired by developer Ken Abdalla as the recession wore on. Abdalla redeveloped the property and has put it on the market.
The asking price for the four-bedroom, five-bathroom Imperial Hotel is nearly $4 million. An advertisement mentions that the buyer could "live on Main Street." The phrasing of the advertisement resembles that of a house for sale rather than a hotel. An online real estate listing refers to the property as a "single family home," a term used to describe a house.
The Imperial Hotel sits toward the southern edge of Main Street's shopping, dining and entertainment stretch, close to the point where commercial buildings give way to houses. If it one day becomes a house, the Imperial Hotel would be the only one along what has traditionally been the stretch of commercial frontage along Main Street.
Joe Wrona, an attorney who represents Abdalla, said a house was "the optimal redevelopment strategy" for the Imperial Hotel. He acknowledged that an eventual buyer could rethink the way the ground floor is used and turn it into commercial space.
"It demonstrates brilliant arbitrage vision, meaning you see something and it's being underutilized," Wrona said, describing there being interest from potential buyers and saying that he expects the Imperial Hotel will be under contract soon.
There are numerous residential properties along the commercial section of Main Street, but none of them are houses. Some are rental units on the second stories of commercial buildings.
The executive director of the Historic Park City Alliance, Alison Butz, said it is better that the Imperial Hotel be occupied as a house than remain vacant, as it has been.
"You're in the best spot as far as proximity to restaurants, town, transit. It's a killer spot," Butz said.
The Imperial Hotel building, dating to 1904, has been under the ownership of both the private sector and City Hall over the past decade. Its recent history has been notable.
City Hall purchased the property with the idea of trading it to the Air Force as part of a deal for federally owned land municipal leaders wanted protected from development. A swap was never finalized, and City Hall sold the Imperial Hotel back to the private sector. The building at one point was seen as the location of a restaurant before it went to Abdalla. It was gutted prior to the sale to Abdalla.
Liza Simpson, a Park City Councilwoman who lives in an apartment on Main Street above Dolly's Bookstore, said the Imperial Hotel offered an attractive location for someone visiting Park City. She said it is sad seeing the building removed as a hotel property, but the renovation is good for the community.
"I'm just happy to see the lights on," Simpson said.
She described living on Main Street as having tradeoffs. Simpson has lived on Main Street for approximately 15 years. A "young hipster couple" could be attracted to a place like the Imperial Hotel building.
"There are pluses and minuses to living right on Main Street," Simpson said. "I obviously love it. My dogs don't have a yard."