Main Street presses refresh button
September 6, 2013
Bulldozers, concrete pavers, and gas line replacements have been apparent all along Park City’s historic Main Street for the past several months, and it is just the first phase of an extensive five-year project.
The last time it faced a remodeling project this large was in the early 1990s, according to Alison Butz, executive director of the Historic Park City Alliance (HPCA).
Over the last few years, upon noticing the cracked sidewalks potential trip hazards and dilapidated light posts, the HPCA decided it was time to lobby for a refresh of the iconic tourist attraction.
"The resorts like Park City Mountain Resort, Canyons and Deer Valley, they all re-invest in themselves often, and Main Street is just as much a tourist attraction as the resorts," said Butz. "So there was a refresh that was needed."
In 2010, the HPCA began the effort to remodel Main Street. There was a general commitment from the Park City City Council, but a funding source was still in question. It wasn’t until voters approved the increase in Resort Sales Tax by one-half percent in November that City Council was able to commit to $14 million in renovations over the course of five to seven years, Butz said.
The construction on the sidewalks, which first began at Java Cow and extended down toward the U.S. Post Office dovetailed with Questar Gas digging up trenches to replace gas lines. Once that is done, electrical work is completed, and it will all be paved over by Miller Paving, according to Butz.
The alley starting at Baranof Jewelers and Alaska Fur Gallery is currently under construction going uphill as well as the Terigo Plaza Walkway. This is the final bit of construction for this first phase, which is expected to be completed by the second week of October.
The most important thing Butz said the HPCA made sure to do was to keep open communication with business owners and the public. Craig Sanchez is currently acting as Community Engagement Liaison between the HPCA and business owners, she said.
Sanchez let business owners know what impacts they could expect, and if any of them had some sort of special event coming up, he made sure to work around their schedule.
"No doubt it is disruptive for the businesses," said Butz. "There is noise, there is dust, but we have done our best to keep access open at all times."
Doug Hollinger, owner of Park City Clothing Company, said that the construction does create cause for concern when it comes to customers wondering whether or not the stores are still open.
"You bet that’s a concern, and hopefully they stay on it," said Hollinger. "They have built wooden ramps leading into the stores trying to let the customers know that we are definitely still open."
The city agreed to shut down construction for two weeks, in an attempt to keep businesses and access for customers open during the busiest time of the summer in Park City. Construction was halted from July 29 through Aug. 12, while the Park City Arts Festival and the Tour of Utah passed through Main Street, Butz said.
Now that the first phase of construction is almost complete, the HPCA is looking forward to the second phase to begin in April.
Questar Gas will be going in and replacing gas lines along streets such as 7th Street from Park Avenue to Main Street which will be the first of several sections. They will then work on a section from the Claim Jumper downhill to 625 Main St. near Heber Avenue, and another section from the U.S. Post Office on the east side all the way down to Heber Avenue, Butz said.
Among bigger improvements will be a renovation of the Bear Pass Walk-Through between Swede Alley and Main Street beginning at the drop-off at the transit center. According to Butz, they will be improving the sidewalk and pass and remodel "the general feel of it," but there are no designs drawn up yet.
Hollinger will be among those business owners affected by the remodeling of Bear Pass Walk-Through next spring.
"It’s dirty, it’s loud, and it hurts business, but I have to say that they have been doing a pretty darn good job," said Hollinger. "But boy, they put it all together across the street there fast; they didn’t mess around."
One area on the west side of Swede Alley, where City Hall, the U.S. Post Office and a liquor store all meet, may be up for reconstruction as well. Butz said that there is a possibility that they will create a sidewalk coming up from Swede Alley into City Hall and reconfigure the parking lot.
Despite the early start next summer, there will still be another two-week halt in construction for the Arts Festival and Tour of Utah. Butz is optimistic about the end product and said that merchants are more excited than worried now that progress has been made quickly and efficiently.
"It’s something that has to be done, needs to be done, and we as merchants, of course, want it over with as soon as possible," said Hollinger. "I think it will look a lot better, and it will represent Park City a lot better."