Housing designs sketched | ParkRecord.com

Housing designs sketched

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

Carole Casten sometimes sees deer in the swath of open space near her Windrift condominium, and she says Parkites and visitors often fish in the stream that flows through the land.

It is among the last open swaths in the city, she contends, talking especially about a marshy meadow on the land. But City Hall, which holds the acreage, is considering building a work force housing project on some of the land, leaving neighbors like Casten worried about the prospects of construction.

"It’s the last open space available in the Park City area," says Casten, who has lived in Windrift on a part-time basis for the last five years.

Casten, who splits her time between Windrift and Manhattan Beach, Calif., was among a crowd of neighbors who attended a recent daylong exercise by architects, designers and others involved in the City Hall efforts to build at the site.

The design team, led by Park City architect Craig Elliott, spent hours at the new police station sketching possibilities for the work force housing and coming up with several rough iterations of how the project could be laid out.

Some of the designs put the housing along a big cul-de-sac while others are more rectangular in their layout. Elliott’s team did not pick a preferred design, and he says the blueprints evolved throughout the day.

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He says his designers considered whether the housing should be oriented to use solar energy and they discussed the amount of grass and landscaping that could be incorporated into the project.

Elliott says the designers created five or six layouts that appeared promising. They plan to further research those, but others were scrapped during the exercise.

"We found a lot of schemes that didn’t work. That’s part of it," Elliott says.

The recent gathering was the first significant public event since the Park City Council awarded Elliot a $40,000 contract for the initial design work. The elected officials have said they want to pursue a work force project at the site, and a project of between 20 and 28 units has been discussed.

The land, covering about eight acres, is near the Park Avenue post office and the police station. Most of the parcel would be preserved as open space, and construction would not extend onto wetlands on the parcel. Elliott says none of the designs puts housing within 50 feet of the wetlands.

The housing would be put on a little more than an acre.

Elliott says the designs considered at the gathering ranged from 13 units to 26 units, with sizes as big as 2,000 square feet and as small as 1,200 square feet. Houses and townhouses were talked about. The designs call for between 80 and 85 percent open space.

City Hall sees itself as one of the chief local supporters of work force housing, with officials favoring a theory that holds Park City will be better off if more rank-and-file workers live locally. Park City’s resort-driven real estate market prices many people out of the city.

A project between 13 and 26 units would be among the largest built in the city in recent years.

The gathering drew supporters and some of Park City’s elected officials. It is expected there will be neighborhood opposition once City Hall submits a formal application to build a project, which could occur in early 2008.

Jim Hier, a City Councilor who attended, supports building a project, saying the location is near a bus line and is close to stores and restaurants. He says the land should not be considered an empty building lot, not a swath of treasured open space.

"Of the sites we have available, what would be better than this," Hier says, acknowledging officials must further research how tall the buildings would be and how much the project will cost.

He says neighbors should not be worried about a project. The housing would not loom outside their windows, Hier says, calling the parcel the "most attractive alternative."

"The impact to the neighbors is minimal," Hier says. "It’s out of their line of sight."