Kamas development slows with little objection
October 14, 2008
What should new businesses in Kamas look like? What is the décor, or style of the community?
Paul Fischer of Commerce CRG, partnering with his brother, developer Mark Fischer, on the Kamas Business Commons across from the Kamas Foodtown, said the Jans distribution center there is a good example.
Paul Fischer said there was a lot of discussion with the city over what that area should look like, and they settled on a look that was traditional, historic and agrarian/ranch in style with a lot of wood, stone and other natural materials.
The Jans Mountain Outfitters distribution center is the anchor tenant for the Kamas Business Commons. It and the Fischer’s High Star Ranch project that is underway, are two examples of developments that are not only expanding the boundaries of Kamas, but also its identity.
That’s a tricky proposition in a town fiercely protective of its own community identity. The agreement on style for the buildings at the Commons is somewhat reflective of not only how Kamas city views its past and present, but what it wants for the future.
Kamas City Planner, Jackie Blazzard, said the community has been OK with the slowing in development that has occurred over the past year. At first it was due to glut in the market, and now recently because of the banking scare.
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"For the most part, people in the community would like to see development come slowly and see the community remain rural as much as possible, for as long as possible," she said.
Mark Fischer said he’s "bullish" about the potential of Kamas and predicts the valley to be "booming" once the current financial crisis is over.
That said, the Fischers said they are careful to be highly sensitive as they move forward.
"It’s very important to us to be very respectful of local Kamas citizens and their visions for the future of their community," Mark Fischer said.
Blazzard acknowledged that there had been steady growth in the building sector a few years ago, but that the subdivisions filled in slowly.
"People are content with the slow pace things are coming at and don’t want to see a lot of change quickly," she said. "They’d like to see it stay a small community for as long as it can."
Blazzard said a goal of the city is to make sure Kamas stays the commercial hub of the valley when development picks up again.
The city is planning on eventually allowing the corridor between Kamas and Park City to become a commercial zone. In the short-term, however, she’d like to see new businesses start in and around the city as the Fischers’ Kamas Business Commons has done.
"Kamas people want to see growth done wisely and well thought out so it’s an asset to community rather than a rush to get something in place that might not fit well or might be a problem later," said Russell Larsen, vice-president for DC Transport and Excavating, that will soon start a new development near Tuhaye called Berg Ridge.
He said that as Kamas grows, the make-up of the valley might change. While there will always be people there who want it to stay a distinct community, there might also be a new contingent of people who work and play in Park City but move to Kamas for the lower housing prices.
Blazzard said she anticipates Kamas to keep its identity as the "Gateway to the Uintas."
With people using the Uinta Mountains year-round, Blazzard said she expects Kamas to remain a hub for mountain and forest recreationists and doesn’t anticipate any kind of downturn in the number of those visitors who feed local businesses.