Architect envisions worker housing |

Architect envisions worker housing

A Park City architect has approached City Hall for a loan to build a work force housing development in Old Town, a request that comes amid widened efforts by the local government to provide places for rank-and-file workers.

Craig Elliott, who has designed worker housing projects such as the Line Condominiums on Deer Valley Drive and the proposed Snow Creek Cottages on Park Avenue, said details of a development had not been finalized.

He declined to discuss specifics, including how many units he is considering and who would be eligible to live in the project, but he said he is interested in work force developments.

"I’m looking for the type of project I want to do personally in my town," Elliott said.

The amount of the loan request has not been publicized.

Phyllis Robinson, who directs City Hall’s housing programs, said the land under consideration is on the 1300 block of Woodside Avenue, next to the senior citizen’s center. The land is privately held. Robinson said the land is largely vacant.

Mayor Dana Williams and the Park City Council, acting as the city’s Redevelopment Agency, are tentatively scheduled to discuss the idea on Sept. 11. Details about the loan proposal would likely not be made public until a few days before the Sept. 11 meeting.

Robinson said City Hall has not endorsed a project at the location.

A firm called Elliott Development is in talks with City Hall about the Woodside Avenue project. Elliott Development is separated from Elliott Workgroup, Elliott’s architectural firm.

The neighborhood around the 1300 block of Woodside Avenue is densely packed, and it is difficult to predict whether there would be resistance to a work force development at the site.

People who live nearby likely would be interested in the amount of traffic a project would attract and the way it would look on the streetscape, common concerns when a development is proposed.

If Elliott proceeds, he would need to secure development permits from City Hall. Park City officials have long touted themselves as supporters of work force housing, and City Hall has previously provided financial help for similarly restricted projects.

But Park City officials only occasionally put taxpayer money into loans to the private sector and nonprofits to build worker housing, including widely publicized financial assistance with the Line Condominiums. In that case, the developer, the nonprofit Mountainlands Community Housing Trust, was unable to repay City Hall on schedule.

Elliott’s idea to build a work force development is unusual in the private sector in that it does not appear to be tied to a larger project.

In many cases involving the private sector, developers put up work force housing as part of a wider agreement with Park City officials that allows them to also build regularly priced houses, condominiums or hotels. Talisker, as an example, is pursuing several work force housing projects tied to the approval of its slopeside Empire Pass development in Deer Valley.

Park City leaders have long endorsed an idea that the community is better off if a larger bloc of the work force lives locally. They say housing workers in the city makes Park City more diverse and reduces traffic, among other benefits.

People who qualify to live in work force housing would otherwise be priced out of Park City by the resort-driven real estate market, the most expensive in Utah.

The talks about a loan to Elliott would follow shortly after City Councilors, in a highly charged decision, endorsed the Snow Creek Cottages over objections from neighbors.

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