Tenant, an art gallery, will splash color on long-dark Park City building | ParkRecord.com

Tenant, an art gallery, will splash color on long-dark Park City building

by Jay Hamburger
THE PARK RECORD

The Claim Jumper Building on Main Street, without a year-round tenant, has been a lingering reminder of the recession. An art gallery plans to open this month in part of the space.

An art gallery is preparing to open in part of the Claim Jumper Building on Main Street, a representative of the property's owner said on Monday, a tenant that will splash the space with color on a year-round basis after it sat largely dark over the past decade.

The opening will be welcome as the vacant Claim Jumper Building, one of the largest along Main Street, became in recent years a lingering reminder of the recession. Although there has been progress on other vacant or underused properties since the depths of the downturn, there has seemed to be limited movement on the Claim Jumper Building. It has hosted special events, including some during the Sundance Film Festival, but it did not have a year-round tenant.

The building is under the ownership of an Oklahoma City-based corporate entity. The ownership's representative in Park City, Billy Reed, said the art gallery plans to open by the middle of October. He said it will occupy the main level. The Claim Jumper Building will continue to be available for special events as well, he said. Terms of the art gallery's lease were not made public.

"They are committed and we are committed," Reed said, acknowledging that the Claim Jumper Building team understands City Hall's goal to have year-round tenants along Main Street.

City Hall disclosed the existence of an agreement between the Claim Jumper Building and the art gallery in a report released on Monday. The report, co-authored by five staffers, says the sides in the Claim Jumper Building lease are finalizing the agreement.

The City Hall report covers a series of other topics related to Main Street tenancies. The municipal government is considering changing rules to prohibit someone who holds a business license on a year-round basis from converting the license to a hospitality license unless they can provide proof that the space is occupied all year. It is a move meant to ensure a more vibrant Main Street streetscape on a year-round basis. There have been concerns about buildings opening for lucrative rentals during the Sundance Film Festival in January and then remaining vacant for all or most of the rest of the year.

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The report was drafted in anticipation of a Park City Council meeting on Thursday. Mayor Jack Thomas and the City Council are scheduled to discuss Main Street starting at 5:30 p.m. at the Marsac Building.

The historic Claim Jumper Building, which over the decades housed a hotel, a restaurant and offices, became symbolic as one of the properties that buzzed during Sundance with a variety of events in January only to be shuttered for most of the year afterward.

Reed said the Claim Jumper Building team understands that City Hall does not "like dark space" and that the agreement with the art gallery is a step in assisting the municipal government in its goals.

"It will be inviting people in," Reed said about the art gallery.

Jonathan Weidenhamer, the economic development manager at City Hall and one of the staffers who co-authored the report, said the municipal government is reviewing an application for a business license and planning a required inspection of the space. He noted, though, there are other prominent properties on or just off Main Street that remain unoccupied even as the Claim Jumper Building prepares to turn the lights. He mentioned the former Kimball Art Center building and a nearby building that once housed a restaurant as examples.

"It kind of fills the gap in a smile," Weidenhamer said about the upcoming opening of an art gallery in the Claim Jumper Building, adding, "Any vacancy is not a good vacancy."

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