Holiday shoppers have fewer parking spots on Main Street this year.
Park City officials recently agreed to allow construction crews redeveloping the building once known as the Main Street Mall to occupy some parking spaces steps from the work. The officials also gave the crews the go-ahead to prohibit parking in additional spots across Main Street from the work site.
The loss of the parking spaces comes as Main Street is expected to become busier than it has been recently as the ski season starts in earnest with two of the mountain resorts already open and the third scheduled to open on Saturday. Shoppers are expected to visit Main Street in greater numbers in the next few weeks, and the week between Christmas and New Year's is traditionally a busy one in Park City.
The Public Works Department issued a permit allowing the construction crews to occupy 14 parking spaces between the east and west sides of the street. The permit went into effect on Nov. 26 and lasts until Jan. 13, encompassing the entire holiday shopping season. The Jan. 13 expiration date is three days before the opening of the Sundance Film Festival, when parking on Main Street is heavily restricted.
The 14 spots represent a tiny percentage of the overall number of public parking spots on Main Street and nearby Swede Alley, but they are located on a heavily traveled section of Main Street with stores, restaurants and the Egyptian Theatre nearby.
No-parking pylons were placed along the affected section of the east side of Main Street at first.
Brian Andersen, who is the parking team leader in the Public Works Department, said the department charges construction crews $16 per spot each day that the spot is occupied. Andersen said the permit covers 49 days. He said $10,996 was collected by the Public Works Department.
The building is undergoing an ambitious renovation. It will be transformed from what was an indoor mall into a building with residences on the upstairs floors and Main Street-facing commercial spaces on the street level. It is one of a series of major construction projects underway as the ski season starts.
There were discussions between people involved in the project, City Hall and Main Street prior to the work starting.
Alison Butz, who is the executive director of the Historic Park City Alliance, which represents Main Street's interests, said the group wanted to ensure pedestrians could continue to walk the length of the west side of Main Street. To keep the west side open to pedestrians, Butz said, a route was needed that stretched onto the street with the protection of the concrete barriers. With the barriers reaching into the street, parking restrictions were needed on the east side of Main Street to keep two lanes of traffic available, she said.
Butz said maintaining the pedestrian access on the west side of Main Street was critical to nearby businesses. Still, she said, the no-parking zone could impact sales at that location as well as uphill from site. She said she has spoken to approximately 15 businesses about the parking restrictions.
"It's detrimental to those businesses above there if it looks closed," she said, adding, "When that looks closed, people don't venture further."
Red Banjo Pizza, on the east side of Main Street, is one of the businesses close to the construction site. The parking spots on Main Street outside the pizza shop are within the no-parking zone. Scott Toly, a manager-owner at Red Banjo Pizza, said he did not initially realize that the restrictions would be put in place on the east side but later received information from the Historic Park City Alliance.
"With that much parking being gone, that may have an impact on the upper part of Main Street," Toly said.