Historic Centennial condemned
City Hall condemned in February a rundown boardinghouse on Main Street, saying the Centennial, the once-proud structure that stood as a sentinel at the southern end of the street for more than a century, is uninhabitable.
The rickety building has been unoccupied for some time and, from the outside, passersby have watched it deteriorate on a street where the buildings are typically kept pretty for Parkites and tourists.
It is unclear when the people who lived in the seven apartments inside moved out and there have been various ownership changes and redevelopment plans over the past several years.
A representative of the current owner, a Park City firm known as Mountain Seas Development, says the building, 176 Main St., was purchased in March 2006. No one has lived inside since at least then, says Joy Bateman, the firm’s office manager.
"We purchased it in the condition it is in now," she says.
Ron Ivie, City Hall’s chief building official, says he condemned the Centennial on Feb. 21. By doing so, he barred people from living in the building. The order does not require the owners to tear down the building.
Ivie says his order instead demands that the owners secure the building and present City Hall a plan within 60 days to repair the Centennial. Since then, he says, the building has been secured "to some degree."
"It was vacant. It was open and had been pretty much gutted," Ivie says, reporting fixtures, tubs and sinks were removed.
He says utilities are turned off, water pipes are broken and the roof leaks. Ivie worries vagrants might seek shelter in the building, light fires for warmth and accidentally set the Centennial ablaze.
"People being in there is not a good thing with no heat. Sometimes they improvise," Ivie says.
Bateman says she understands the building was secured within the last 10 days.
The Centennial is believed to date from about 1901. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Sandra Morrison, who directs the Park City Historical Society, says the Centennial is one of three local boardinghouses still standing that was built once silver miners were allowed to live off their worksite. A law requiring them to reside at the mines was repealed in 1901, she says. The Centennial was previously known as the Durkin Boardinghouse.
In recent years, though, the building fell into disrepair. In 2004, a flood devastated the lower level after nearby Poison Creek jumped its banks during a huge downpour. There has been little visible work on the building since then.
Dale Nelson, the building’s former owner, who held the property when the flood occurred, says he is not surprised Ivie condemned the building. He recalls removing the windows in 2005, says circuit breakers were taken out and supports Ivie’s claims that some of the insides were removed.
"It was uninhabitable two years ago," Nelson says.
Developers have considered refurbishing the Centennial since Nelson sold the building but work never started. The Park City Planning Department says a renovation was previously approved allowing the ground floor to be turned into commercial space and two condominiums on the second floor. The plan contemplated a garage being built underneath. Ray Milliner, a City Hall planner, says the developers did not receive a building permit, though, and the approval expired.
Afterward, in early 2006, Milliner says City Hall reviewed another plan for the building, which involved turning the Centennial into, possibly, a duplex with a condominium built on the building’s back. That idea did not advance.
The condition of the Centennial is disconcerting to Park City’s influential preservation community, which remains indignant about a 2006 City Hall-hired consultant’s report that found newer construction in Old Town threatens the neighborhood’s historic charm and Main Street’s listing on the National Register.
"Main Street has been losing its historical significance piece by piece," Morrison says.
Across the street from the Centennial, at the Italian restaurant Grappa, restaurateur Bill White says the building still holds the potential of being a "charmer" and an attraction for people strolling at the top of Main Street.
"Right now, it’s a blighted structure," he says. "Most people turn their head when they go by it."
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