Sundance construction shutdown takes effect along Main Street
Ryan Summerlin January 18, 2014
The stars of the Sundance Film Festival will not be the contractors.
And the festival’s soundtrack will not include construction workers hammering away along Main Street.
City Hall, in what was an aggressive move, ordered a shutdown of construction projects along Main Street not related to the festival itself. There is a series of major private sector projects on or just off Main Street that drew scrutiny late in 2013, as it became apparent that the work, taken together, was leaving Main Street a less attractive place to visit.
As Sundance neared, Park City officials took the dramatic step of ordering the shutdown along Main Street. Some of the project sites are unmistakable, but there will not be work at them for most of Sundance.
The first period involved in the City Hall-ordered shutdown took effect at noon on Thursday and lasts until 7 a.m. on Tuesday. The Thursday-to-Tuesday schedule covers the normally jammed opening weekend of Sundance. The shutdown will take effect again from noon on Jan. 24 until 7 a.m. on Jan. 27, encompassing the second weekend of Sundance, which is also normally busy.
Chad Root, the chief building official at City Hall, said the shutdown involves Swede Alley, the east side of upper Park Avenue and Heber Avenue in addition to Main Street itself. He said there are fewer than 10 projects along Main Street that are impacted. The keys ones are:
A few projects involving remodels of the interior are also impacted by the shutdown, he said.
One crane, at the site of the 692 Main St. project, will be left standing along Main Street during Sundance. Another one, which stood close to the Main Street-Heber Avenue intersection for the Silver Queen Hotel building project, was taken down in recent weeks. It will return periodically as the work continues.
Root holds the power to shut down other construction sites outside of the Main Street core if it is found that they are interfering with the operations of Sundance.
The shutdown was a dramatic step taken amid increasing concerns last year about the construction projects along Main Street. There were worries that the projects were hurting sales as parking spots were taken out of circulation, sections of sidewalks were closed and construction fences were posted along stretches of the streetscape.
The concerns were magnified as Sundance, the busiest stretch of Park City’s calendar, approached. Officials wanted to ensure the pedestrian flow was not hindered on the Main Street sidewalks and that the construction sites did not cause even worse traffic backups than are normal during the festival. There were safety concerns as well.
Root said the shutdown attempts to eliminate conflicts between construction crews and the Sundance crowds. There could have been more problems with parking and loading and unloading vehicles if the projects had been allowed to continue during the festival, he said.
The shutdown offers a "more pleasant atmosphere for festival-goers," Root said, adding that some of the construction crews decided to stop work during Sundance anyway based on inconveniences the festival creates.
"Some of them have voluntarily shut down because they knew it was a waste of money," he said.
Others, though, reacted with "some pushback" after the shutdown was ordered, Root said. They wanted to continue working on the inside of the projects, perhaps installing tiling, painting or focusing on the plumbing, he said.
The shutdown does not affect the work on temporary setups for the festival week. Park City allowed those crews to create the festival and corporate sites that dot the Main Street core. Some of them will remain through the festival while others will be dismantled early next week.
Main Street is enjoying a significant amount of private-sector investment as developers move forward with confidence in the economy. City Hall has said the amount of building activity along Main Street is perhaps the most in more than a century, dating to when Park City was recovering from a devastating 1898 fire.
Joe Wrona, an attorney who represents six buildings along Main Street, including some of the major construction sites, said the shutdown is reasonable. He said the developers appreciated City Hall provided notice in advance. The shutdown during Sundance could delay the projects two or three weeks since the crews will need to remobilize afterward.
"It certainly retards progress, so the redevelopment of the projects is slowed down to a degree," Wrona said.