Main Street businesses disappointed over decision to defund projects to help fund Treasure acquisition
When votes were being tallied on Election Day for the City Hall bond measure to fund most of the acquisition of the Treasure acreage, the fate of a handful of completely different projects were up in the air.
Multiple projects on Main Street, including the proposed Brew Pub Plaza on the southern end of the street, were defunded or delayed because voters approved the Treasure bond a few months ago. City Hall plans to put money previously slated for the projects toward Treasure. Some Main Street businesses that looked forward to the new plaza are disappointed with the reallocation of funds.
Jonathan Weidenhamer, the economic development director for Park City, said plans for the Brew Pub Plaza near Wasatch Brew Pub and other Main Street development projects were put in place after the city co-commissioned a study with the land use planning firm IBI Group Services in 2012. Once a concept plan was created, another group turned the concept plan into design development plans.
The goal of the entire project was to improve Main Street, Weidenhamer said, and several plazas emerged as ways to enhance the street and provide more gathering places. In addition to the Brew Pub Plaza plans, the city intended to redo or create three other smaller plazas around town, as well as renovate the sidewalks on the street. The projects would have totaled approximately $12 million. Using the money for Treasure enabled City Hall to reduce the amount needed in a bond to complete the $64 million acquisition of the land.
The resort community tax, which customers of Main Street businesses pay, would have covered the cost of the projects.
Seth Adams, the executive chef and co-owner of Riverhorse Provisions, said he is upset the funds are being used to purchase the Treasure land.
“Overall, I think it’s a shame that we’ve taken up all of our slush fund that none of us will really be able to use,” he said.
He was excited for the plaza, and said the plaza was part of the reason he decided to open Riverhorse Provisions across the street from where it was set to be located. He said the decision to defund the plaza is a step backwards as it pertains to Main Street’s progress. The plaza would have included underground parking and an outdoor plaza for events.
He said the Brew Pub Plaza would have pushed people to upper Main Street, which is generally less trafficked than the lower half of the historic street. The plaza would have been a vibrant attraction for families, he said, since it could have hosted small concerts or other outdoor events.
“You’ve got to have outdoor space,” he said. “You’ve got to have things that will appeal to the families and everyone who comes to Park City, not just someone buying art or on the slopes. We have to offer everything across the board, and I think the Brew Pub Plaza brought that.”
Star Finnegan is the general manager of Grappa Italian Restaurant, which is a couple hundred feet from the lot where the plaza would have been located. She agreed the plaza would have been a major draw for people to walk up the hill and visit businesses on the upper part of the street.
“I honestly feel like it would create more flow to the top of Main Street and also create a better viewing experience for our business and the neighbors by improving our thriving busy tourist town,” she said. “I think it is unfortunate that the money was rerouted for other projects.”
The city did complete some Main Street projects over the past few years. It built the Bob Wells Plaza on Swede Alley and put in stamped brick sidewalks on Swede Alley. Plus, many sidewalks, storm drains and streetlights were renovated on Main Street.
The Brew Pub plaza alone would have cost the city about $9 million, with an underground parking garage taking up $4 million of the cost. For the next few years, Weidenhamer said the city will likely be working on redoing Park Avenue, which is going to be a roughly $20 million project.
“If you start to stack up nice-to-haves, which is a plaza, with a need-to-have, which is our main arterial neighborhood route, that starts to get to be an easy choice,” Weidenhamer said.
But, he knows how beneficial the plaza and other improvements could have been to Main Street. He said he hopes one, if not all, of the projects are put back on the docket in the future. How long that will take depends on what other projects spring up in the meantime.
He said the City Council plans to have a conversation about future improvements for Main Street in March. The city still has about $500,000 to be used for small projects on the street.
“I’m committed to having Main Street be enjoyable, look clean and be safe and creating place,” he said. “That’s important to me.”
For now, Weidenhamer said Main Street appears to be healthy. In the short-term, he said it will be able to stay relevant and help Park City compete with other mountain cities. But, in a few years, more updates will need to be done. Michael Barille, executive director of the Historic Park City Alliance, said the important part is that Main Street is able to maintain its legacy as a “key cog to our economy, our attractiveness to destination visitors, and the quality of opportunities and experiences available to locals.”
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