Park City mayor, longtime tenant, out at historic barn
Jack Thomas says lease price was too steep
For nearly two decades, visitors entering Park City or leaving town could see Jack Thomas’ name affixed to the historic red barn on the corner of S.R. 224 and White Pine Canyon Road.
Thomas, Park City’s mayor, operated an architecture firm, Jack Thomas Associates, out of the second level of the barn, deemed an historic structure by Summit County. The firm, however, was recently forced to find a new home, as Thomas made the same choice several Park City entrepreneurs have in recent years when their landlord has sought more money: he left.
“It’s a little tough,” he said. “But, you know, I didn’t own the barn. I tried to buy it and would have liked to purchase it a couple of times. But they weren’t interested in selling the property.”
When Thomas moved into the barn 19 years ago, it was hardly in any shape to host a business, he said. It lacked basic amenities such as water, power, gas and insulation. He made a deal with the then-owner of the barn, the late Norma Ivers, to renovate the building in exchange for a reasonable lease rate, he said.
But when Thomas’ lease was set to expire this fall, he said, the current owners of the barn — Ivers’ children — requested that he rent out the entire space, rather than just the second floor. The cost would have been untenable for the firm, he said.
“The reality is that, after 19 years, we kind of expected our rent to go up,” he said. “But we weren’t interested in leasing the whole barn. We were only interested in leasing the upstairs, which is what we’ve occupied for the last couple years.
“They did ask for about double what I thought the going rate should be,” he added. “So we found another space.”
Miles Ivers, one of the owners of the barn, did not return multiple calls seeking comment.
Thomas, who moved out of the barn about two weeks ago, relocated his firm to 6584 Creekside Lane in Kimball Junction. He expects to be in that space only temporarily, as he has begun designing a new building at the Bill White Farms on S.R. 224, which he hopes to move into within 12 months.
He said he had been thinking about building a new space for some time but decided to move forward when it became clear he would not be renewing his lease at the barn.
Thomas is far from the only business owner in the Park City area to abandon a space because of rent prices in recent years. However, he did not attribute his plight to being priced out of the market, as other business owners have claimed to be. He said he found several buildings with reasonable rent prices before choosing to move into the temporary space on Creekside Lane.
“I found quite a few other projects in the community that had a fair rate, I thought,” he said. “… I really had a number of other choices to move into.”
The barn has already found a prospective new tenant. Switchback Sports, a retailer of new and used sporting goods, is set to move into the space. The Snyderville Basin Planning Commission on Tuesday, Dec. 13, voted to provide the business with a conditional use permit to use the space for retail — a necessary step due to the building’s historic designation.
Patrick Fannon, owner of Switchback Sports, said he was surprised the barn became available to lease. He wants to use it as a second location for his company, which operates another retail store at 1685 Bonanza Drive. The barn does not need structural changes to be used for retail, he said.
“We wanted to move from being downtown to being towards Kimball Junction,” he said, adding that he hopes to occupy the space by the end of ski season. “I drive by that red barn every day, and I think there’s a lot of symmetry with our business model around reusing and repurposing sporting goods and reusing and repurposing an iconic barn in town.”
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