NoMa’s future draws diverse visions
Heather Coulson late in the summer plans to join Park City’s competitive restaurant industry.
With Atlantic Pizza & Deli, the restaurant she and business partners plan to open, Coulson will become a tenant in the so-called North of Main area, the shopping and dining district that some business owners are pushing to make into a Park City hotspot.
But Coulson envisions the area, sometimes called ‘NoMa,’ standing for North of Main, as a place for local businesses. She is leery of ideas to make the district into a trendy location for boutiques of international stature.
"That keeps the town unique. You can go to the mall if you want to shop at Nordstrom, Banana Republic," Coulson said, speaking at a recent open house regarding the NoMa district.
The Park City Planning Commission also recently held a hearing regarding the district, dubbed the ‘Park Bonanza’ area by City Hall. The open house and the hearing, held in succession, were opportunities for Parkites to talk to City Hall staffers and testify about their opinions of the planned transformation of the district from its current iteration as a place that many Parkites see as a spot for more utilitarian chores, like doing their laundry.
Rodman Jordan, who is leading the NoMa efforts and who controls large tracts of property in the district, told the open house that he expects that the district will become a hit with crowds.
"It becomes a destination in itself," Jordan said about NoMa, as he described plans to alleviate traffic in Old Town with a satellite parking lot in the district and intentions to make the district easy for walkers to navigate. "We covet the commuters, not their cars."
Opinions last week were scattered, with some people happy that a revamped district would be good for business but others worried about possible changes to the neighborhood.
Jordan argues that City Hall should allow taller buildings in the district than current zoning restrictions. He says that he prefers zoning rules that allow buildings to be at least four stories tall, with an allowance for another two stories if a building is designed well.
If buildings are taller, he says, less space is taken up by development, creating projects that do not spread throughout a parcel of land. Jordan envisions buildings as tall as the Caledonian on Main Street.
"It’s better than sprawl," he says.
There are worries about the taller buildings that Jordan envisions.
At the hearing, Emily Burten, who lives in the Homestake condominiums, said she is alarmed with the prospects of buildings that size.
"I don’t want to see a Redstone in any way, shape or form," Burten said, referring to the Kimball Junction shopping area.
Mary Wintzer, a major property owner in the district, told Planning Commissioners that she worries about the taller buildings.
"It definitely would obliterate a lot of the mountain views," Wintzer said.
City Hall is considering updating its General Plan, a broad document that outlines how Park City wants to grow, to address the district. The government released a draft of the proposed changes to the document, mainly to encourage debate.
The changes contemplate encouraging, "a mix of local and national shops and restaurants," with the biggest being 20,000 square feet, with the possible exception for a grocery store, according to the draft. The draft also contemplates "a range of housing."
The General Plan proposal also discusses transit in the neighborhood, with the document discussing the potential of a new traffic light, a roundabout, a bicycle route and a ski lift.
Jordan says most of the people who he talks to like the ideas for the district and says that he has received "a landslide" of support.
The critics of the NoMa plans do not discourage Jordan, who says that they are reacting to an idea that is unorthodox.
"It’s new. You have a community that’s had bad experiences with development over the years," Jordan says. "The conservative thing to do is say, ‘No.’"
A supporter of the plans, Tom Oliver, who is retired from the insurance industry and lives in Prospector, says he likes the changes to the neighborhood already completed, like the clock tower Jordan built on his property along Bonanza Drive.
Oliver says that he wants people like Jordan to make the district upscale, which, he says, will make Park City more competitive with other mountain resorts.
"People forget it is a resort community. You go to Vail, you go to Aspen, those (cities) look like a resort," he says.
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The Jordanelle Reservoir is at about 67% of its capacity, not the lowest its been but a level that officials say is concerning.