Mega-project rises at busy corner | ParkRecord.com

Mega-project rises at busy corner

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

Brent Hill has a group of regulars at The Back Door, the deli he runs in the Gateway Center in Old Town and one of the few places for a quick meal at the lower end of the Main Street core.

Among them are some of the people building the huge Sky Lodge at the Main Street-Heber Avenue intersection, a few steps from the deli and in view of The Back Door’s windows.

The lodge, the biggest construction project in Old Town in years, has been going up in view of the scores of Parkites and visitors on Main Street and the people who live nearby. The crane towering above the site can been seen from numerous vantage points and the sound from the construction crews emanates from the site.

"It’s give and take with everything," Hill admits, predicting the Sky Lodge will be out of character in Old Town but expecting that, once it opens, business will go up. "It’s a small, growing mountain town."

Parkites and people who work on Main Street have especially watched in recent weeks as the construction crews started to put up the building after excavating the site for months.

Bill Shoaf, who is managing the development team and will run the lodge’s operations, says the structure has reached its top height — 62.5 feet from the ground or, measured from Heber Avenue, about 42.5 feet.

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He says the construction is on schedule and he outlines a timetable that envisions the reopening of Easy Street Brasserie, which is closed due to the nearby construction, in mid-November and the opening of the lodge in mid-December, just before what is traditionally one of the busiest periods of the ski season.

Shoaf expects the crews will soon install the outside walls and windows, staircases, a plaza and artificial waterfalls will be built.

He says the building "absolutely" fits, noting that it sits off the busy corner and the height, when measured from Heber Avenue, is comparable to nearby buildings.

"I think the building has more airspace around it than many other buildings on Main Street," Shoaf says. "It’s not that much higher than any other building it’s next to."

Ron Ivie, City Hall’s chief building official, reports his inspectors have not encountered problems with Sky Lodge crews but says Heber Avenue has been partially closed to traffic a few times. On Monday, Ivie spoke to the Sky Lodge team about electrical connections to deliver power to the building, he says, praising the construction supervisors

"It’s a tough project. There’s limited area to stage. It’s been a significant challenge," Ivie says about avoiding disruptions on Main Street and Heber Avenue.

Shoaf, describing some of the construction difficulties, notes floor panels were manufactured in Salt Lake City, trucked to the site on 18-wheelers and lowered into place with a crane.

The building is part of what is expected to be a significant private-sector investment in Main Street, Park City’s most famous shopping, dining and entertainment district. Other projects envisioned on Main Street include refurbishing the ClaimJumper building, putting up a retail and residential building on a vacant parcel toward the southern, or uphill, end of the street and updating the Main Street Mall.

The Sky Lodge perplexed Park City officials as they approved the development. They especially worried about the building’s height but determined it is appropriate.

There were also concerns about restricted affordable housing in the Sky Lodge, which was required before the Park City Council allowed the developers to instead pay into a housing fund. The elected officials were worried that the building would be too big if the affordable housing was included.

The developers are building 22 units in the Sky Lodge, ranging in size from 1,265 square feet to a little more than 2,800 square feet. They are selling the units in one-eighth shares, a timeshare-like arrangement known as fractional ownership.

Shoaf says sales are going "exceedingly well" and the numbers exceed projections. He does not provide details.

At Hill’s nearby deli, as he watches the mountain views from his place disappear behind the construction, he hopes the Sky Lodge emerges as a popular spot. Business once it opens, he expects, will tick upward.

"Right now, with steel beams, that’s no fun," Hill says.