Park City developer faces questions about Old Town project | ParkRecord.com

Park City developer faces questions about Old Town project

Jay Hamburger THE PARK RECORD

A developer in Old Town, facing questions about a project involving a prominent historic building, said this week work is proceeding in a manner that will best preserve the structure.

The Rio Grande development is under construction along Park Avenue close to the Town Lift and steps off Main Street. Questions were raised at a recent Park City Council meeting about the preservation efforts centered on the building itself. The Rio Grande building dates to 1899 and is part of Park City’s railroad past. It housed the baggage station of the Denver & Rio Grande Western train depot a century ago but has been abandoned for years.

The Rio Grande building was temporarily moved as the developer worked on other parts of the project. It was returned to the site early in the year. The developer intends to renovate the building into a single commercial space. The overall project entails condominiums and other commercial spaces.

There were questions about the project at a City Council meeting last week and the developer appeared before the elected officials this week. The Park City Planning Commission briefly discussed the topic on Wednesday as well.

Some of the concerns center on the look of the exterior walls. The walls for years were made of corrugated yellow metal, and many Parkites associate that look with the building. Rory Murphy, the developer, said in an interview, though, corrugated yellow metal was historically not attached to the exterior walls.

"That was not the look I was asked to reproduce," Murphy said.

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He said crews discovered wood siding when they peeled back the corrugated metal. The wood boards had been cut years ago to the point they reached a height of just four feet off the ground, he said. Murphy said the crews needed to shore up the structural elements for safety reasons.

Murphy said the project is using new wood as the siding instead of corrugated metal. City Hall approved the plans, he said. The four-foot-tall wood boards have been stored off site, Murphy said.

There was also a question about the roof of the building. Murphy said the wood that made up the roof was determined to be damaged beyond repair. New wood was used to build the roof, he said.

Park City officials are continuing to research the issues. Murphy told Mayor Jack Thomas and the City Council he is looking forward to a City Hall report about the matter. Mark Harrington, the Park City attorney, said in an interview he anticipates the Planning Department will draft a report by early in the week, at the latest.

Historic preservation has been a critical issue for the municipal government for years. Leaders see Park City’s history, centered on the silver mining industry but also including an intriguing railroad past, as something that sets the community apart from some other mountain resorts.

Murphy, a veteran developer whose work stretches from Empire Pass to Thaynes Canyon, has incorporated major historic preservation elements in other projects like Silver Star at the Spiro Tunnel site on the edge of Thaynes Canyon.

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