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Firm tapped for workforce housing

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

The Park City Council on Thursday is expected to authorize a small contract with a firm to design a workforce housing project on the edge of Snow Creek, a $40,000 deal that will advance City Hall’s efforts to build on a site that neighbors have previously contested.

City Hall staffers have tapped Elliott Workgroup, a local firm, to design three blueprints for the housing. The City Council must approve the contract. The local government received four proposals for the work, with Elliott submitting the second-lowest bid.

Phyllis Robinson, who directs City Hall’s housing program, says Elliott will conduct a public-relations effort as well as draft designs, including the number of units, their type and the layout of the development.

Robinson says the land could hold between 24 and 28 units, but the number could be reduced depending on the design.

She says Elliott was selected based on the firm’s Park City base, its understanding of City Hall’s planning process and its work in the area. She touts Elliott’s commitment to designing projects in an environmentally friendly method.

Robinson, meanwhile, says Elliott worked on the Line Condominiums on Deer Valley Drive and the North Bench Farms in Oakley, two workforce-housing projects.

The site sits on a swath of land near the Park Avenue post office and the new police station. It holds a commanding view of Park City Mountain Resort, and Deer Valley Resort appears in the distance.

The parcel stretches across eight acres, but City Hall has set aside most of the land as open space and wetlands. About 1.8 acres would be developed.

There had been talk previously about building workforce housing on the site, but those discussions did not advance. At that time, neighbors challenged City Hall, saying they preferred that the land remain undeveloped.

It is likely neighbors will criticize a new proposal for the land. The parcel sits nearby Windrift and Saddle View. Workforce housing ideas in Park City often draw opposition from neighbors, who generally worry about more traffic, declining property values and land being over developed.

"No one particularly likes change to begin with," Robinson concedes.

Robinson says City Hall wants to start building the project on May 1, 2008, depending on when the city’s Planning Commission considers the development. She expects to file an application with the Planning Department in January. Before then, Robinson plans to schedule a public hearing with the City Council about the designs.

Robinson says preliminary estimates price the construction at $6 million. City Hall intends to recoup the cost through selling the units, but it also could direct workforce housing money collected from developers toward the project.

City Hall sees itself as being among the chief local proponents of workforce housing, often called affordable housing. Supporters with the local government say Park City is better off if more people who work in Park City can afford to live locally. Many local workers have been forced out of Park City by its resort-driven housing market, the most expensive in the state.


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