Park City waits to see how new regulations on temporary businesses play out
January 16, 2018
As businesses load out of Main Street in preparation for temporary ones to take their place during the Sundance Film Festival, anticipation is high to see how new regulations will play out.
At the conclusion of last year's festival, the city unanimously approved amendments to requirements for temporary businesses coming to Main Street. Along with increased fees, businesses are also not permitted to do large-scale loading out during Sundance's first weekend. Now, the city is waiting to see if the changes will make the street a more attractive, pedestrian-friendly shopping district and entice businesses to stay beyond the first weekend.
Temporary businesses now must pay a total of $809.58 to rent a space on Main Street, compared to $372 last year. They pay $372 for transportation fees, $149 for administration fees, $45.58 for enhanced enforcement and $243 to be located on Main Street in the business improvement district. Plus, they must show proof of paying $100 to public services to pick up trash left behind.
The decision was made after an exceptionally large exodus that took place immediately following the first weekend at last year's festival. Beth Bynan, business license specialist for the city, said that parked semi-trucks blocked pedestrians and caused traffic backups. The new regulations aim to improve public safety during the festival.
Plus, it can help business, added Michael Barille, executive director of the Historic Park City Alliance, a group that represents the interests of businesses in the Main Street area. Companies that remain open can be negatively impacted by a scene that looks as if the festival is over.
"The businesses that aren't turning over and trying to operate their year-round businesses are trying to get deliveries in and people in their front doors," he said.
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Barille, who worked with the city on the changes, said that the goal is to remind people that the festival is open for 10 days, not just the first weekend. But Bynan said that 80 percent of the temporary businesses plan to leave on the first Monday or Tuesday. Temporary businesses can move out prior to Tuesday if they do short, small load outs.
Colby Larsen, owner of four art galleries on Main Street, said that temporary businesses leaving early is the sign of a bigger problem, one that cannot be easily fixed with new regulations.
While he said he loves the idea of limiting load out after the first weekend, he said there is a reason businesses are packing out before the festival is over. He said one cause is the fact many parties and events leave Main Street and head to private residences to be more exclusive. Plus, several temporary businesses are opting for pop-up tents rather than paying to rent a brick-and-mortar location. Main Street is not the center of attention that it used to be, he said.
Before temporary business applications began flooding in, city officials and businesses were worried that the regulations would hinder interest in purchasing a license.
Yet, the changes did not seem to discourage businesses. Barille said that the amount of applications was similar to last year.
Larsen said he turned away 14 businesses because they wanted to leave early. Although he had to wait, he was able to find three businesses willing to stay to rent the full week.
This is the first year he is choosing to not rent out one of his four galleries, and each year he said that permanent businesses are choosing not to rent their spaces because having the temporary shops leave early does not make the cost worth it.
As property owners begin to request a larger part of the revenue, Larsen said the value of renting space is diminishing even further for some Main Street businesses.
Barille is hopeful that diminishing the behind-the-scenes work during the festival will keep Main Street businesses – both permanent and temporary – thriving.
"We want to have a positive image to project to people who are visiting during that period," he said.