Construction crews written out of Sundance Film Festival script
January 23, 2015
Main Street construction crews have been written out of the Sundance Film Festival script.
Park City officials, leery of the impacts construction crews would have on the festival, ordered a shutdown of projects during what are expected to be the busiest times of Sundance.
Approximately seven construction sites are impacted, according to Chief Building Official Chad Root. The first Sundance-related shutdown started at noon on Thursday. It is scheduled to be lifted at 7 a.m. on Monday. Then, at noon on Friday, the second shutdown starts. It will last until 7 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 2, the day after Sundance closes.
The shutdown zone includes Main Street, Park Avenue in Old Town and Swede Alley. Root said the projects that are impacted include large sites like The Parkite on Main Street and the Rio Grande development on Park Avenue. Smaller projects are also part of the shutdown order.
Park City leaders want to ensure Sundance unfolds as smoothly as possible. There have been worries for more than a year that a series of construction projects along Main Street have detracted from the quaint nature of the shopping, dining and entertainment strip. This year’s shutdown is similar to one that was in place during the festival in 2014, at a time when concerns were deepening about the impacts on Main Street. Officials have also stopped construction along Main Street during busy times like the holidays.
"The purpose of it is to give ambiance to the festival," Root said.
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He said the shutdown also offers logistical benefits. Root said allowing construction crews at the sites during Sundance would have created further difficulties on a street that is already jammed for the festival.
"The roads are already packed. There’s no place to park. It’s just a recipe for fights and hot tempers," he said.
The Park City Building Department, though, granted some exceptions to the crews working at The Parkite and the Rio Grande development. Root said the workers will be allowed to continue with some tasks if they are "unseen" and "unheard." Those two would be stopped if a complaint is logged, he said.
Construction, meanwhile, will be allowed along Main Street during limited hours on the weekdays of the film festival. The crews are normally allowed to work from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m. on weekdays. The window during Sundance will be from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. If the Building Department fields a complaint, the work will be shut down, he said.
Root said the developers with projects impacted by the shutdown accepted the Building Department’s position.
Main Street is the primary party zone during Sundance, attracting large crowds of film-goers, journalists and visitors who want to take in the scene. Sundance operates several important venues along Main Street, including a screening room in the Egyptian Theatre, and corporate interests temporarily occupy other buildings with elaborate setups.
The Park City construction industry is on a tear, posting its first $100 million-plus year since 2008 in 2014. The numbers reflect a broad increase in activity, but the work along Main Street has been especially notable.
There has been an extraordinary amount of investment on or just off Main Street as landowners and developers display confidence in the Park City market. They say Main Street’s prospects are strong, citing the scarcity of land along the street and the planned improvements to Park City Mountain Resort as a result of Colorado-based Vail Resorts 2014 acquisition of the resort.
An attorney who represents three construction projects along Main Street that were included in the Sundance shutdown said the Building Department’s move was expected.
"The good news is my clients have been able to anticipate the city shutdown request," Joe Wrona said. "My clients recognize that’s part of being able to do business on Main Street."
Wrona represents the April Inn, the Silver Queen Hotel and a project at 692 Main St. He noted that the shutdown causes a delay longer than the stoppage itself, explaining that the construction crews must remobilize and set up the staging afterward. Still, though, the developers understand the importance of Sundance to Park City.
"In order for their projects to succeed, they need to promote Sundance right along with the city," he said.