NoMa talks hit stoplight
Perhaps 2007 will be the year of North of Main — it seems that 2006 will not.
Plans to reshape the district into what the boosters say would be a hip, happening destination stalled on Thursday night as the Park City Council, unable to reach an agreement on key points, put off more discussions about the district, often called NoMa.
The elected officials, who are considering a package of changes to City Hall’s General Plan, seemed far from deciding whether to OK the alterations. The General Plan is a document that broadly outlines how the government wants the city to grow.
They had concerns like the makeup of the retailers that might open in the district and whether the district, centered along Bonanza Drive and stretching through much of the northern part of Park City, should aspire to draw tourists or Parkites.
The City Council, which before Thursday night was tentatively scheduled to vote on the changes as early as Oct. 26, requested that the Planning Commission revisit its talks about the district.
Bruce Erickson, a City Hall-hired consultant who is shepherding the changes through the government’s approval process, said afterward that he expects to return to the Planning Commission as early as December, with the package possibly making it back to the City Council in early 2007.
The NoMa talks have unfolded through 2006, with lots of businesspeople, especially Rodman Jordan, who is leading the NoMa efforts and has major interests in the district, arguing that the area should be revitalized and that the revisions to the development rules are needed to do so.
Neighbors, though, are worried about the potential that taller buildings would be put up if the rules are adopted.
The changes would allow developers to build up to 45 feet tall if projects include public benefits. Now, they can generally build up to 35 feet but do not have a limit if a building is part of a larger development. In that case, the Planning Commission determines an appropriate height.
There was initially talk of allowing 50 feet under the changes but five feet were chopped off the limit during the discussions. comparison, two of the tallest structures in the district — the tower at The Yarrow and the tower at the Olympic Welcome Plaza — are each taller than 55 feet, according to Erickson.
The City Council held a 30-minute hearing on Thursday, listening to 12 people whose comments were similar to those presented during earlier hearings.
Some of the supporters said that a vibrant NoMa district would be welcome and the opponents continued to worry about traffic and the heights of the buildings.
"I definitely need to go shopping more," said Dottie Small, a Park Meadows resident who wants NoMa to be full of upscale retailers and restaurants.
Mark Fischer, who is Jordan’s business partner, said he envisions 10 years of upgrades.
"Please keep the dream alive," he said.
But critics doubted the plans and wanted more information about how much traffic would descend on NoMa, which many Parkites say is already clogged with cars.
"I think the traffic study is the first thing we need to start with," Mary Wintzer, who has large real-estate holdings in the district, said, adding that she questions whether young people could afford to live in the district if it is remade.
The elected officials said they had questions about the amount of affordable housing that might be built, traffic and parking.
City Councilwoman Candy Erickson, the consultant’s wife, said the district does not need to be swanky and prefers that NoMa becomes a draw for regular Parkites. If that happens, she said, the tourists will also visit the district.
"I don’t care if it’s cinder block," she said.
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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.