Amid the fine art, the Claim Jumper remains in its decrepit state | ParkRecord.com

Amid the fine art, the Claim Jumper remains in its decrepit state

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

Kristen Moss has one of the best views of one of Park City’s iconic buildings.

Directly across the street from Flight Boutique, and framed in the boutique’s Main Street-facing window, is the Claim Jumper, the hulking historic brick structure that has sat abandoned for years now and, it seems, could be left largely in its decrepit state for some time.

Moss, one of the owners of the boutique, said this week she often sees people walk by the Claim Jumper looking into its windows. She has heard people talking about the building as well since the boutique opened late last year.

"People want to know what’s going to go in there. I don’t think it should stay abandoned," Moss said on Thursday.

Her comments came the day before the Park City Kimball Arts Festival opened on Main Street, bringing what were expected to be some of the largest crowds of the summer to the street. The Claim Jumper occupies a high-profile spot, sitting at 573 Main St. and looming over the neighboring buildings. The Arts Festival crowds will file by the Claim Jumper as they move between the artist booths. Some might even take a quick break on the Claim Jumper steps, as people have been seen doing occasionally.

The Claim Jumper can be seen as perhaps the most striking visible example of the dour economy’s effects on Park City — a once-grand building on a well-traveled stretch of Main Street that now sits virtually dark.

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An Arizona firm held ambitious plans to refurbish the Claim Jumper into a boutique hotel. Those ideas were long ago scrapped as the economy faltered, and the Arizona firm abandoned most of its blueprints for the Claim Jumper and other properties it had on Main Street.

The Claim Jumper was put up for auction in a trustee’s sale in December, with a wholly owned subsidiary of the lender placing a $5 million bid that nobody tried to beat. The lender, MidFirst Bank, shored up the property soon after the auction, but there has been little activity since.

The Claim Jumper remains for sale. But Billy Reed, who is the project manager of the MidFirst Bank subsidiary that holds the building, said it is more likely that his firm will redevelop the building someday on its own. Both the Park City Planning Department and City Hall’s Building Department said this week there have not been recent inquiries from people interested in the Claim Jumper.

Reed said ideas are under consideration, but a timeline for the redevelopment has not been set. He said his side has met with local architects to discuss overarching ideas for the building, but he declined to provide details.

"That’s what we’re looking at now — what the prospects are," Reed said, adding "it is really early in the process."

Reed said the Claim Jumper has a "great location in Park City." It has long been anticipated that a redevelopment of the Claim Jumper could involve turning the upper floors into some sort of residential space, perhaps condominiums or hotel rooms, while redoing the Main Street level into stores or a restaurant. A renovation like that would run into the millions of dollars, with questions remaining whether the local real estate market, is ripe for that sort of project.

At Flight Boutique, Moss sees the Claim Jumper someday perhaps being redone into a boutique hotel or maybe in the fashion of the Sky Lodge at the Main Street-Heber Avenue intersection.

"It’s smaller than most of our big resorts in Park City," she said. "It has that old Park City charm."