City Hall will order a shutdown of construction projects along Main Street during most of the Sundance Film Festival in January, an acknowledgement of the difficulties the work would create as the largest crowds of the year descend on the street for the festival.
The shutdown comes amid discussions at City Hall about the wider impact of a series of Main Street construction projects underway as the street enjoys an extraordinary amount of private sector investment.
Chad Root, the chief building official, said the shutdown will be in place from Jan. 16 until Jan. 20 and again from Jan. 24 until Jan. 26. The dates involve the festival's first Thursday through Monday and Sundance's second Friday through Sunday. It will be in place for eight of the festival's 11 days.
He said construction projects along Main Street and projects elsewhere that would affect the operations of the festival will be impacted. He said there is the possibility the Building Department will allow minor interior work during the shutdown, though. Root said there is a clause in City Hall-issued building permits allowing a shutdown based on public safety concerns.
"Most of the contractors are glad not to be in town during Sundance," Root said, describing that City Hall more heavily enforces parking restrictions and building codes during the festival.
Root said construction crews are affected by the parking restrictions, traffic and restrictions on loading and unloading vehicles during Sundance. The construction sites, meanwhile, have impacts on the festival with parked construction vehicles, noise, dust and debris, he said. Tempers flare sometimes, Root said.
There is a series of construction projects along Main Street that will not be finished by Sundance. The street is amid one of the most significant building booms it has ever experienced. Some of the projects, such as the redevelopment of the building that once housed the Main Street Mall and the redo of the Silver Queen Hotel building, involve a major operation while others are smaller in scale.
Sundance venues are scattered throughout Park City and the Snyderville Basin, but Main Street has long been the buzzing center of the festival. There is a screening room at the Egyptian Theatre and several other official Sundance locations on or close to Main Street. Much of the hubbub surrounding Sundance, such as corporate gifting suites and receptions, occurs on Main Street. A separate film festival, Slamdance, meanwhile, is staged at the Treasure Mountain Inn at the southern end of the street.
Shoulder-to-shoulder crowds often are seen on Main Street, particularly during the opening weekend of Sundance. Parking is tightly controlled on Main Street and on Swede Alley during the festival, but traffic is normally congested nonetheless.
There was a similar shutdown in place during the 2012 festival, Root said, but it received little publicity since the construction projects at the time were not as prominent as the ones now underway.
In a recent report to Mayor Dana Williams and the Park City Council, Root listed nine of the larger building permits issued for projects on Main Street. It is likely some of the projects will push to be completed by Sundance, but others will be well underway by then. The sites listed in the report stretch from the 200 block of Main Street to the 600 block, a heavily trafficked section that is hopping during the festival.
One of the projects, the redevelopment of the Silver Queen Hotel building, is of note given the crane that has been erected at the site. Root said City Hall will require the crane be removed prior to Sundance. It will be allowed back after the festival, he said.
The shutdown that will be in place in January has not been widely publicized. An attorney who represents some of the property owners along Main Street with projects that will be affected said in statement the workers will adhere to the shutdown. Ken Abdalla, who is redeveloping several properties, supports City Hall's decision, his attorney, Joe Wrona, said in the statement.
"Mr. Abdalla is very aware of the importance of Main Street to the annual Sundance micro-economy in Park City, and Mr. Abdalla is happy to accommodate the City's construction blackout of Main Street during Sundance," the statement said. "Mr. Abdalla believes it is in all of our best interest to curtail construction activity on Main Street during Sundance, and he has instructed his contractors to strictly comply with the City's blackout regulation."