Neighbor worries of ‘party central’
Traffic and noise during the Sundance Film Festival is common on Main Street.
Side streets in the North of Main district, though, are not usually buzzing during the festival, leaving people living in places like Homestake largely removed from the festival’s goings-on.
Mary Cook prefers it that way. A Homestake resident, Cook is worried about a landowner’s idea to turn a sprawling old lumberyard off Kearns Boulevard into a hotspot for celebrities and corporate interests.
"This is going to turn into party central," she told the Park City Council during a recent meeting about what has been dubbed ‘The Yard.’
The elected officials are considering the request, and the recent meeting was the first time regular Parkites could provide comments to the City Councilors.
The Yard would be the most ambitious entertainment complex of its kind during Sundance. There is a long history of promoters turning Main Street buildings into invitation-only entertainment and hospitality centers during the film festival, but the move to the NoMa district with something of its size was unexpected until the plans were publicized in November.
There have been limited comments from neighbors, and there does not appear to be organized opposition to The Yard. Cook, though, said the idea is "complicating our lives a great deal."
She worried about kids being hit by cars, said people heading to The Yard might park in the neighborhood and requested a phone number to contact organizers if things are out of control.
Another person from Homestake, a landlord, said The Yard would not disturb his tenants because they work late anyway.
The talks about The Yard are scheduled to continue through early January, when the City Council is expected to decide whether to let the idea proceed. They will likely vote days before The Yard is to debut.
The City Councilors spent time recently debating how the request should be considered through City Hall’s permitting process, talked about how loud music would be and asked several questions about neighborhood impacts.
The Yard is designed as a celebrity-laden retreat where people will hang out until the late-night hours, as late as 4 a.m., according to the organizers. The celebrities and others, they say, will be able to escape inside, where they will party out of sight from the paparazzi and regular revelers.
The organizers also plan to operate a parking lot at the site, available to anybody, with daily fees set at $15 per car.
Mike Sweeney, who with his family has put on smaller-scale hospitality entertainment sites on Main Street and is assisting landowner Mark J. Fischer, predicted the late-night festivities will draw between 50 and 150 people. Daytime crowds could reach about 1,000 people, the organizers have said.
"We want to be a good neighbor," Sweeney said.
In an interview, Fischer said he wants good relations with the neighborhood.
"We’re sensitive to it," he said, adding, "We’re going to manage it very carefully."
Meanwhile, the president of a nearby condominium association said in an interview he will not oppose the plans, but there are worries about noise, traffic and parking.
"I don’t mind if they do something over there unless it impacts the neighborhood negatively," said Greg Friedman, who is the president of the Claimjumper Condominium Association, acknowledging others will see The Yard as a nuisance.
He does not expect promoters to be interested in the site well into the future, given its industrial feel and plans to develop the property someday into what is envisioned as the upscale core of the North of Main district.
"I don’t think it’s aesthetically exciting. People come to Park City and expect to see nice things," Friedman said. "It’s a steel building. I don’t see the existing property as a long-term venue because it’s not up to standard."
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