No changes to mall planned this spring | ParkRecord.com

No changes to mall planned this spring

by Andrew Kirk, OF THE RECORD STAFF

The 333 Main Street Mall will stay open and will be largely unchanged through the ski season, says owner Stan Castleton.

Kevin Valaika, owner of the restaurant Shabu, said he’ll definitely be there until April. The Sidecar owner Mike Wong said he has no plans to move.

The mall is slated for renovation in 2009, and last January Castleton told The Park Record that it could begin as early as spring. Many of the leases expire in May. This week in a telephone interview Castleton pushed that back to late summer.

A few tenants with leases expiring in the fall said they’re planning on staying until then if possible.

"I’m open to staying until summer, but I can’t count my apples until I see what all the proposals are," said Felix Saez, owner of Stone Art Gallery.

Valaika expressed frustration with how many unknowns there are with the future of the property.

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"All of us run the risk of going out of business," he said.

Valaika is making plans based on three scenarios. If he finds a suitable new location within the next few months, he’ll leave the mall in mid-April and reopen at the new site mid-June. If he fails to find a suitable new spot, he’ll continue at the mall as long as he can. If renovation plans are postponed, he’ll try to renegotiate his lease.

Wong, who is currently in a lawsuit with the mall owners over his long-term lease, believes renovation will be postponed or cancelled in this sour economy.

"It’s very nerve wracking on all of us," Valaika said.

The Park City Historical Society and Museum will begin moving into its new building in February, and a few tenants said they’d move or close shop in April.

Michelle Chambers, owner of Park City Fossils and Gems, said she’s on a month-to-month lease now and was told she could stay until August, but wants be gone with the snow.

"Last summer, sales were poor," she said. "After the season ends it’s just not worth it anymore. It has been in the past, but if I can’t stay until next winter, there’s really no point."

She said some of her neighbors are thinking the same thing.

Wade and Renee Hall, owners of Park City Colors, said they’re out when their lease expires April 30. The rent in other parts of Main Street is too high, Wade said, and they may not reopen a retail space.

"Everywhere else is four times the cost of here. We’ve got a pretty good online presence we might look for some other galleries to carry our work. We’ll see what happens. We may go on the road and do shows," he said.

The future is equally foggy for Virginia Hardman, owner of Names, Etc. She’s been on Main Street for 22 years and is waiting to receive more information from the mall owners before making any decisions.

Gary Johnson with the Art Is In Park City said he’d like to stay as long as possible. If renovation is delayed past fall 2009, a photographer is considering purchasing the space. The name will change, but Johnson will stick around.

Doug Hollinger, owner of Park City Clothing Company, said he feels the same way. After being in the same location for 15 years, he’s not sure customers will look for him if he moves. After the skiers leave he’ll start looking for a new spot, but wants to stay until the last minute. So much so, that if he finds a place to relocate, he might run two locations until the mall closes.

"Even if we just move across the street, we’ll lose people. They look for you in one spot," he said.

Castleton said it’s hard to speak in concrete terms after the end of ski season. A lot of things are still up in the air. Monty Coates, owner of Southwestern Expressions, said he’d just as soon wait to learn more. His lease goes until September.

Lower rent isn’t the only reason tenants are pledging to stay.

"Redstone and other places are less expensive, but they’re just not Main. There’s nothing like Main," said Wade Hall.

Archivist Emily Beeson said the Historical Society should be all moved in by the end of the spring, but declined to project an opening date for the museum.