NoMa: just ‘one shot at it’
January 10, 2009
When Mark Fischer moved to Park City in the late 1990s, a time when the city was enjoying a pre-2002 Winter Olympic business boom, there was just scattered interest from entrepreneurs in some of the swaths of land off streets like Bonanza Drive and Kearns Boulevard.
To many, the land held limited potential — it was well off Main Street, there seemed to be little chance of linking it to Park City Mountain Resort, immediately making it more valuable, and generations of Parkites had seemed drive through without often stopping.
Fischer, though, has put together a patchwork of key properties in what has been dubbed North of Main, or NoMa, spending part of this decade amassing land that he wants to turn into a bustling district. Fischer recently settled a long-running legal dispute with his former business partner in NoMa, Rodman Jordan, leaving Fischer as the figure who will lead the efforts to redevelop the district.
"We’ve got one shot at it to make this work," Fischer says. "I want people, when they see this, to want to live there."
With the dispute between Fischer and Jordan settled, Fischer is readying to restart talks with City Hall about the NoMa district and preparing to meet with other landowners in the district, with the hopes of convincing both officials and the others in NoMa that the ideas will work well.
Since 2004, Fischer and Jordan had trumpeted a revamped NoMa district as becoming Park City’s next hotspot, full of boutiques, restaurants and lofts. It would complement Main Street well, they said, even as it emerges with its own personality.
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Fischer says the ideas remain intact, and he speaks with similar excitement as Jordan once did when he describes the potential of NoMa. The district will be "vibrant," Fischer predicts, and it will "make the whole town work better."
He wants to build a gondola linking the center of NoMa to PCMR, a connection that would make the real estate more attractive. Fischer envisions putting a transit center in NoMa, better linking the district to the rest of Park City. Lots of nearby parking is needed, he says.
Meanwhile, Fischer expects the buildings he wants to put up will need to be taller than the typical ones in NoMa now. The tallest would climb to at least five stories, he says, explaining that more land could be set aside for small parks or open space if the taller buildings are allowed.
Fischer says several hundred residential units are under consideration throughout his parcels. Some will be expensive, but he says others will be priced in the mid-range of Park City real estate. The plans include units for work force housing within the district. He says he wants people living there all year, and Fischer does not see NoMa as becoming a place full of seasonal residents only.
"I want to be able to attract a cross section of folks, from young single people to affluent older couples. Everybody’s welcome," he says.
Fischer expects his side will spend significant time considering options to handle traffic in NoMa, where there have been widespread complaints about backups on streets like Bonanza Drive and Kearns Boulevard. Government officials will make some of the crucial decisions about roadwork, but Fischer says the idea to build a gondola could cut traffic.
He wants to approach the Park City Planning Commission in 2009 with the ideas, with hopes of starting construction in 2011, depending on the talks with the panel. Fischer says he has started to approach neighboring landowners with his ideas for NoMa.
In a previous round of meetings at City Hall, there was concern from some people who live close to the key parcels about taller buildings looming over the district and traffic.
"If it’s done well, it’s going to be an amazing thing," he says. "That’s my goal."
The prime parcels
Mark Fischer owns a large swath of land in the North of Main district, with his holdings including some of the prime parcels in NoMa. Some of them include:
The Yard off Kearns Boulevard, which he calls "ground zero, the center of redevelopment." Under his idea, The Yard would be turned into an important site in the NoMa district. It would feature condominiums, upscale stores and restaurants, public space for festivals and markets, a transit hub and an underground garage. There is an idea to build a gondola linking the site to Park City Mountain Resort.
A portion of the Bonanza Drive commercial district, roughly bordered by Bonanza Drive, Kearns Boulevard and Munchkin Drive. He envisions providing the tenant businesses new space and then tearing down the Fischer-owned buildings they once were in. He would rebuild with commercial space on the street level and residences on the upper levels. He says the work is at least three to five years from starting.
The Rail Central building at the Bonanza Drive-Rail Trail intersection. Fischer wants to build a second phase of Rail Central. Residences would be put on the top floor. Retail and restaurant space would be on the street level.
Name: Mark Fischer
Hometown: Louisville, Ky.
Education: Vanderbilt University
Career: Worked in the family business, which manufactured ice dispensers and beverage dispensers, with more than 50 percent of the world market, according to Fischer. Company sold to another firm in 1998.
Local ties: has lived in Park City 10 years. Lives in Park Meadows.