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Sundance plans for 2017 without ex-art center space

Centrally located property expected to be under construction in January

Sundance Film Festival workers prepare the Kimball Art Center for the 2015 event. Sundance traditionally occupied the building during the festival, but the property is expected to be under construction during the 2017 event.

Sundance Film Festival workers prepare the Kimball Art Center for the 2015 event. Sundance traditionally occupied the building during the festival, but the property is expected to be under construction during the 2017 event.

Sundance Film Festival organizers do not anticipate occupying the former Kimball Art Center space along Main Street during January event as a result of a major renovation of the building that will be underway.

Festival organizers traditionally temporarily leased the building to open what is known as the Sundance House, a centrally located gathering spot used for a variety of functions. It has been sponsored by HP. The Sundance House at the former Kimball Art Center space had been an important location given its proximity to other festival venues like the Egyptian Theatre screening room and the Music Café as well as its setting steps from the Main Street crowds.

Jason Berger, the media relations manager for Sundance, said there is a chance the building’s patio could be used during the 2017 event. Even that will probably not occur, he acknowledged.

“In all likelihood, we’ll be taking a year break,” Berger said a Sundance presence in the former art center property.

The festival in 2017 will not offer a Sundance House as it has in the past. It will be the second consecutive year without a Sundance House. A Samsung Studio featuring the company’s technology operated in the former Kimball Art Center site in 2016. Samsung was a festival sponsor in 2016.

“The Sundance House itself will not be a venue . . . It’s not being specifically transferred,” Berger said.

The Kimball Art Center, a not-for-profit organization, sold the property along Main Street to a developer after it was unable to secure a City Hall approval for a major renovation. The new owner later won a vote to redevelop the property with a new building on what is now a patio that will be connected to the historic one. The developer, under the umbrella of a California firm called Columbus Pacific Properties, plans to build a project with retail spaces and space designed for events.

The developers this month started to prepare the site for construction. A project representative said recently crews planned to start to demolish the interior shortly, including taking down some inside walls, bathrooms, floors and light fixtures. The interior demolition is expected to take between two and three weeks. The project team anticipates the patio at the Main Street-Heber Avenue intersection and a nearby parking lot will be demolished in the middle of December. Sundance is scheduled to open on Jan. 19 and run until Jan. 29.

Sundance has for years adjusted its venue lineup based on needs and availability. It has added some venues and abandoned others over time. The festival has also temporarily been displaced during construction on venues, notably a one-year absence from the screening room at the gymnasium at the Park City Municipal Athletic & Recreation Center as that facility was under renovation.

Festival organizers, though, generally have been interested in securing more space as Sundance has grown in popularity.

Berger said Sundance and the developers have held discussions about a festival presence at the site as early as the 2018 edition. The project is expected to be substantially complete before Christmas of 2017 and in time for Sundance in 2018. Berger said it is not clear how Sundance could use the venue at that time.