Nightclub plans overhaul
Jesse Shetler’s plans to renovate the No Name Saloon are not bold for Main Street — about 1,200 square feet of new space on a street where developers are putting up huge buildings like the Sky Lodge.
But Shetler, in approaching the Park City Planning Commission with his blueprints, has thrust himself into a dispute with neighbors in a case that highlights the tenuous relations between Main Street and people who live in the surrounding neighborhood, some residing steps from stores, restaurants and nightclubs.
Shetler wants to expand the No Name, 447 Main St., underground toward Park Avenue, the largely residential street one block west of Main Street. In the new space, he plans to install handicapped-accessible restrooms, build storage space and expand the saloon’s kitchen. The rear of the building would be rebuilt to survive earthquakes. Also contemplated is renovating a house at 450 Park Ave., behind the saloon.
The plans resemble those approved in 2004 but the No Name did not proceed then after Shetler was unable to finance the improvements in time. The approval expired, forcing him to return to the Planning Commission. He does not want to put apartments or condominiums into the building, an option that some on Main Street choose as a way to make a project more valuable and offset the costs of renovating or expanding a commercial building.
Shelter says some of the improvements are necessary for the No Name to remain open and he says City Hall has threatened to shutter the nightclub for building-code violations if they are not done. Still, he envisions the bigger kitchen will allow him to start serving breakfast and the new restrooms will shorten lines. The saloon, he says, will be more attractive to families.
"I think it takes the No Name Saloon in the direction this town is going," he says, speaking of the trend toward upscale. "The No Name will better fit the clients’ needs, demands."
The neighbors, though, are worried and the Planning Department wants to prohibit Shetler from using Park Avenue for deliveries or other services if the expansion is approved. The department says it wants the design to "preclude" more drivers from using Park Avenue.
In another restriction, the department insists people not use an emergency exit from the building onto Park Avenue unless they have to. The exit would be designed to "absolutely prohibit" people from using it for regular access to the No Name, according to a report submitted to Planning Commissioners.
That would keep regular No Name customers and the nightclub’s workers from lingering outside on the Park Avenue side of the building, where neighbors are unhappy with noise from Main Street.
The No Name Saloon and the land it sits on are valued at a little more than $1.1 million and the owners, who are from Alabama, paid $9,617.36 in property taxes in 2006, according to the Summit County Assessor’s Office.
Shetler estimates he will pump between $350,000 and $400,000 into improvements to the inside. The owners will bankroll another $1.3 million in upgrades to the building, according to Shetler, who admits the owners’ figure is his own "uneducated estimate." He holds a 33-year lease on the building, lasting another 25 years.
The No Name would close for three or four weeks for the work, probably in the fall, when business in Park City usually slows.
A recent hearing showcased what has been for years a tense understanding between Main Street businesspeople and the neighbors, particularly those on upper Park Avenue.
Just three neighbors and Shetler provided testimony to the Planning Commission and the comments from the Parkites were reminiscent of longtime concerns about Main Street’s revelry spilling into the neighborhood.
John Plunkett, who lives on upper Park Avenue near the No Name and has been a leader on his street, told Planning Commissioners creeping business activity from Main Street threatens upper Park Avenue. He worried about Old Town’s future and said City Hall must enforce rules regulating Main Street businesses.
He claimed people on upper Park Avenue are subjected to activity from Main Street businesses each night and charged that people who work on Main Street frequently use Park Avenue-facing emergency doors when they shouldn’t. He said some of his neighbors have moved.
"Park Avenue is not Swede Alley," Plunkett said.
The complaints are familiar to Parkites who have watched as Main Street became the bustling hotspot it is today, drawing huge crowds during the busy ski season and, increasingly, attracting lots of people in the summer and the fall. The Police Department often is summoned to Main Street or the streets next to it to handle complaints about noise, drunkenness and rowdiness.
"I’m sick and tired of calling the police," Bill Dark, another upper Park Avenue resident, said in his comments to the Planning Commission, claiming back doors of Main Street businesses on the west side of the street, which open to upper Park Avenue, are used for deliveries. "It’s not the nicest residential neighborhood anymore."
Shetler tried to convince neighbors deliveries to the No Name would not be made from Park Avenue, noting a delivery person would face 42 steps if they use Park Avenue. He also predicted upper Park Avenue would be made more attractive by the planned renovation of the house at 450 Park Ave.
A Planning Commissioner, Charlie Wintzer, seemed unconvinced, though.
"I do sympathize with the neighbors," he said, as the Planning Commission delayed a decision until a later meeting.
In an interview, Shetler says he is "on the same side as the residents" and repeats his assertion that deliveries will be made exclusively from Main Street. He says allowing customers to regularly use the emergency exit is bad for business because he would be required to station his workers there.
"I don’t want to have to police two doors, staff two doors," he says. "I don’t want to have to worry about a second entrance."
Meanwhile, in an enticement to City Hall, Shelter has agreed to consider permanently preserving the Main Street-facing side of the No Name, with its distinct, Alamo-shaped architecture. The building dates to 1905 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The local government, tourism boosters and Main Street leaders see the street’s history as giving it an edge over lots of other shopping destinations and the old buildings often pique visitors’ curiosity. A recent report from a City Hall-hired preservation consultant, however, indicated Main Street is losing his historic feel and bigger buildings threaten the street’s spot on the national register.
"It’s important to me because I think it’s important to this town," Shetler says about the unique architecture.
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The Park City lodging industry in recent weeks experienced an uptick in projected occupancy numbers during the dates of the Sundance Film Festival, but the figures remain depressed from a typical year during the largest special event on the city’s calendar.