Old Town building, standing since 1880s, felled for a new development
November 9, 2010
Crews using heavy machinery demolished a historic building in Old Town on Monday, taking down a structure that had stood since before the terrible 1898 fire that destroyed much of what was Park City of that era.
The structure was at 657 Park Ave., next to High West Distillery, and had fallen into disrepair. City Hall staffers earlier approved the demolition, saying that the building had lost much of its historic authenticity over the decades.
The owners of the land where the felled building stood plan to put another one up designed to appear like the one that was originally there.
"In order for it to survive another 100 years, this was the most appropriate one," said Francisco Astorga, the City Hall planner assigned to the project, said about the option to demolish the building.
He said the building’s wooden foundation was rotting.
late in the morning on Monday, the building had been reduced to a heap of splintered wooden boards as the heavy machinery continued to work. There did not appear to be much interest in the demolition from passers-by and drivers.
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Astorga said the building was put up in the mid-1880s, just more than a decade before the fire. It survived the blaze, Astorga said, and had been used as a house. But he said the building in recent years had been altered from its historic state, including adding material that was not part of the original house and putting on different types of siding.
City Hall tightly regulates historic houses and rarely issues a permit allowing someone to demolish one. Officials instead oftentimes request that a historic building be carefully dismantled and the walls then incorporated into a redone building with a new foundation and frame, a process people in the preservation field call panelization.
Astorga said City Hall determined there was not enough historic material in the building that could be salvaged and then used in a panelization project. He said the lack of the historic material kept the building from being eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, an index kept by the National Park Service.
The building had been approximately 1,300 square feet. The owners of the property want to put up a new building measuring approximately 4,000 square feet, Astorga said. He said City Hall holds a $154,450 lien against the property meant to guarantee a redone building meets some of the specifications of the one that was demolished.
Alan Agle, the owner of the property, said the demolished building "had been so bastardized over the years" as the many changes to the appearance were made. He said the new building will be positioned slightly closer to the curb than the original one in order to put an addition on the back. Agle said he envisions some sort of commercial enterprise on the ground floor, with ideas including a wine bar, an art gallery or a yoga studio. There could be residential square footage within the building as well, he said.
Over the years, a dental office and a massage spa had operated in the building, Agle said. It has been vacant, though, since 2006. He said he was "heartbroken" it could not be preserved and incorporated into the project.
Agle said he wants to complete the new building as early as next summer, depending on financing and buyer interest.