NoMa merchants tout bright future | ParkRecord.com

NoMa merchants tout bright future

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

Rodman Jordan, second from left, explains his ideas for the North of Main district during a recent reception celebrating the area, sometimes called NoMa. Merchants at the reception were excited about the prospects of the district, which Jordan wants to revamp into a hip spot. Scott Sine/Park Record

Terry Frank acknowledges that the North of Main district is not yet the vibrant destination that the businesses there envision.

But that, he says, will change eventually and in the meantime he is pleased with the way the businesses are cooperating. Frank, who owns No Place Like Home, a Bonanza Drive store that sells kitchen accessories, says that businesspeople in the district can turn North of Main, sometimes called NoMa, into a Park City hotspot over time.

"I don’t think it’s going to be a real quick happening," Frank says during a recent reception in the district.

The reception, held at Julie Nester Gallery, one of the few art galleries in Park City outside of Main Street, drew about 50 people for a social hour. Some of the merchants were discussing the details of the district’s future but lots of the people at the reception seemed to be there to chat about lots of issues not related to NoMa.

"I think there’s more camaraderie. In years past, you were on your own," Frank, who is on the board of directors of the NoMa business alliance, says.

The reception occurred in the aftermath of a pivotal series of City Hall hearings regarding NoMa, which is seen by the businesses as an up-and-coming district that has the potential of challenging other spots in the area for business from Parkites and tourists.

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The local government is considering wide-ranging alterations to the city’s General Plan, a document that describes how City Hall wants Park City to grow, addressing the district. Key points including allowing some developers to build up to 45 feet tall. They are now generally held to a 35-foot limit, with the potential of some allowances for buildings in larger projects.

The height limit dominated hearings in front of the Planning Commission, which voted in favor of the changes, and the Park City Council. Neighbors were worried that the taller buildings would loom over the district but Rodman Jordan, the developer who is leading the NoMa efforts, argued that they are needed to better design projects.

The discussions stalled after the City Council started its debate and it is unclear when they will be revisited, potentially not until late in 2006.

At the recent reception, people remained optimistic about NoMa’s prospects. Julie Nester, who owns the gallery with her husband, Doug, says the district could become Park City’s version of hip neighborhoods in big cities, like South of Market, a San Francisco district known as SoMa.

"It was the hip, young. Very vibrant," she says about the neighborhood in San Francisco.

Nester, who opened the gallery in NoMa in late 2004, was drawn to the building just off Bonanza Drive partly by its high ceilings and says that a revitalized NoMa would not threaten Park City’s other districts. That was a concern from some during hearings, who said that NoMa could especially siphon business from Main Street, which is now Park City’s trendiest spot for shopping, dining and entertainment.

"There’s space in Park City to have another very alive community that can provide different services," she says. "Redstone’s down there. Main Street’s up there. You don’t have to choose."

Others agree that a more popular NoMa will not ruin other spots. They instead see a redone district as making Park City a more competitive destination.

Bill Malone, the executive director of the Park City Chamber/Bureau, who attended the gallery event, says tourists like to visit places where Parkites frequent. If NoMa draws Parkites, then the visitors will notice, he says.

"Where there’s community, people on vacation like that," he says. "They like to eat in the places locals eat."

Mike Sweeney, a former leader of the Main Street merchants, says people visiting NoMa would travel to Main Street as well. He says a revitalized NoMa would be better for Park City’s entire economy.

"It will be an improvement over what we are today," Sweeney says. "If we have one cylinder that isn’t working, we have a problem with our engine."