Dakota Pacific Real Estate offers new vision for Tech Center development
Senior housing and medical care, central park with experiential retail among new concepts, but County Courthouse says more work is needed
The Park City Tech Center sits as mostly undeveloped land, but workforce and senior housing, commercial facilities such as a medical center, and a central park equipped with a climbing gym, amphitheater or boardwalk, could exist there someday – if the Summit County Council approves the plan.
Salt Lake City-based development firm Dakota Pacific on Wednesday updated the County Courthouse about changes made to the contentious project proposed west of S.R. 224, at Summit Research Park. Representatives from Dakota Pacific appeared hopeful that a 30% reduction in density would make the development more palatable, but the County Council indicated there was still much work to be done.
“This project has been going on for probably four years now, since the time that we’ve been involved,” said Marc Stanworth, the chief executive officer of Dakota Pacific. “[In part, the community feedback received in December of 2021] has resulted in an exciting and aspirational plan that will serve as a worthy gateway into one of Utah’s most sought-after mountain communities and serve as a model for smart growth.”
Jeff Gochnour, the director of development for Dakota Pacific, highlighted meetings between developers and various community stakeholders, such as the senior-focused Gray Ribbon Housing Committee, that influenced the revised plan.
To better address the county’s needs at the Kimball Junction site, the developers proposed adding 75,000 square feet for retail to promote economic diversity – for a total of 341,000 square feet for commercial use. This could include general commerce such as medical facilities, including assisted living and memory care, as well as opportunities for education, tech and finance.
Dakota Pacific also added a 2-acre central park to the plan in a location that was once designated as a 300-unit apartment building. There were three possibilities for the park, which would incorporate experiential retail for public enjoyment, the developers said.
The first concept was based on active recreation that included pickleball courts, a climbing gym and outdoor bouldering wall, a promenade area where food trucks could set up, a retail cafe, walking trails and a play area. Another idea involved creating an amphitheater for outdoor concerts and summer movie screenings, a community garden, and pickleball courts as well as a small shopping area. The final concept included more natural elements such as a boardwalk and observation deck, and picnic benches amid open space and trails.
“That’s the center of our project and we are considering that to be a very exciting, community gathering spot,” Gochnour said, adding that Dakota Pacific is open to input.
The developers also touted the increased ratio of affordable and workforce housing, which increased from 31% in the original plan to 33% in the latest iteration as well as the addition of more privately-owned residences. In “Plan C”, 34% of the project’s residential units, or 373 units, were eliminated and the overall density was reduced by 25%.
Around 237 of the 727 units will be income deed restricted, and the majority of those will be limited to individuals making 60% of the area’s median income, which is around $56,160, or less. Stanworth indicated the market rate housing included in the plan would still help make Summit County more affordable, while the inclusion of housing reserved for people 55 and older serves an unmet demand.
Dakota Pacific underscored its commitment to sustainability, mentioning plans to achieve carbon neutrality in all buildings, utilize drought-tolerant landscaping, provide electric vehicle charging capability and participate in renewable energy programs, when possible. The development firm also affirmed it controls sufficient water shares to service the full project. “Plan C” is projected to use 16.2% less water than previous versions, according to Gochnour.
“We tried to be very responsive to our local community, understanding that we’re probably not going to be able to meet the demands of a certain constituency out there that loves the fact that it’s sat as open space for quite some time,” Stanworth said. “With the goal of trying to reduce that density, we feel that we’ve made very big strides. A 34% reduction [in residential units] is not insignificant.”
The developers appreciated the challenge of addressing community concerns, he continued, while still making the project financially viable; and he believes the new plan is better than what was first proposed.
Overall, the County Council appeared to appreciate the developers’ effort to listen to public feedback. Many members supported the affordable housing, senior care and central park concepts, but said public-private partnerships were likely needed to see the ideas come to fruition.
“It’s different. Smaller. Smaller is better,” said Roger Armstrong, the chair of the County Council. However, he expressed that there was still work to be done.
County Councilor Canice Harte, a former Snyderville Basin Planning Commissioner who voted against Dakota Pacific’s application to expand the uses at the Tech Center site, said the plan is generally better from when it first appeared. Harte first voted against the project because of the overall square footage and high AMI for affordable housing units, which he said have both improved in the new version. Harte indicated he would like to see a more detailed comparison of Dakota Pacific’s previous plans to the original 2008 development agreement, which limits what can be constructed on the property to mostly tech-related buildings.
Unlike Harte, County Councilor Malena Stevens supported the Dakota Pacific project during her time on the Planning Commission. At the time, she was in favor of allowing a mixed-use project at the otherwise restricted site in hopes that it could become a community benefit and hoped it would help solve the county’s lack of affordable housing. Stevens on Wednesday indicated she would like to see further deed restrictions, such as ensuring the properties are used as primary residences and prohibiting short-term rentals, to help secure housing for people living or working in Summit County.
Tonja Hanson, who was appointed to the County Council in November, highlighted traffic as a primary concern. She said she’d like to see a partnership between the county, the developers and the Utah Department of Transportation that would help expedite transportation projects focused on mitigating congestion in the Kimball Junction area. County Councilor Chris Robinson also appeared in favor of partnerships that would help address the S.R. 224 corridor.
The County Council is expected to meet with Dakota Pacific again next week to discuss a traffic impact study submitted by developers, and the review by a third-party consultant. Community Development Director Pat Putt said the study is important to understanding all of the facts and factors before the project can move forward.
Stanworth said the developers are anxious and motivated to move along in the process. They hope to continue working with the County Courthouse to tweak various aspects of the proposal.
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