Tuesday morning, the Kimball Art Center delivered a terse letter to City Hall stating it will not appeal the Planning Department's denial of its most recent expansion plan. Instead, the KAC has announced a new plan -- to leave Main Street.
In a press release, the Kimball Art Center Executive Director Robin Marrouche explained: "We have been dedicated to making every effort to stay in Old Town because we feel the arts are a crucial piece of our local culture, and will help continue to make Park City an international destination. Unfortunately, the parameters we are required to work within did not allow this to come to fruition."
The KAC has been a mainstay at the corner of Main Street and Heber Avenue since 1976, where it occupies a historic landmark, offering art exhibitions, classes and special events.
In 2011, citing the organization's growth and ambitious plans for the future, the Kimball's board of directors launched an effort to build a major addition at the current location. It hosted an architectural design contest and picked a controversial concept submitted by the Danish architect, Bjarke Ingles.
However, after the initial design drew criticism from the community, the KAC and the architect modified the plans considerably, reducing the proposed height of the expansion from 76 feet to 46 feet. The revised plan was formally submitted to the city this spring, but apparently negotiations surrounding the design modifications broke down.
According to the city's historic preservation planner Anya Grahn, the architectural plan submitted by the Kimball simply did not meet the Historic District's design guidelines.
"We had several concerns about the mass and scale and the rhythm and pattern. It didn't match the look and feel of Old Town," she said of Ingles' proposal for a dramatic peaked board-form concrete entry. However, she added, the planning staff thought there were ways to mitigate the discrepancies.
"We thought there were simple ways to break up the massing. They thought the changes were substantial.'
According to Grahn, the KAC had the option to file an appeal of the Planning Department's decision with the Historic Preservation Board.
According to KAC's release, "The historic building where the Kimball operates is no longer a sustainable venue for the Kimball to serve the community." The release also says the organization is looking at "several viable locations for its new building outside of Old Town Park City. "
A representative for the KAC said the board would not be making further comments at this time.