Park City arts district, future home of Sundance, progresses
The Sundance Film Festival crowds packed into screening rooms, partied on Main Street and crammed onto buses.
But there were few people inside the Park City Council chambers on Thursday night as leaders continued the discussions about the long-term future of the Sundance Institute’s presence in the community.
City Hall intends to develop an arts and culture district along Kearns Boulevard and Bonanza Drive, and the Sundance Institute is heavily involved in the discussions. Sundance plans to move the not-for-profit organization’s Utah headquarters to the arts and culture district after spending years at Silver Star on the edge of Thaynes Canyon before recently moving into temporary quarters on Kearns Boulevard as it awaits progress on the arts and culture district.
The relocation of the Utah offices of Sundance to the arts and culture district is seen as one of the elements crucial to the success of the district, an ambitious City Hall project that is also expected to house a new building for the Kimball Art Center. Sundance and the Kimball Art Center were tapped as the two anchors of a district that leaders see as solidifying Park City’s status as an arts and cultural destination and something that could help diversify an economy that is currently driven by winter sports.
The City Council on Thursday approved a change to a contract with a Texas-based firm called Lake|Flato Architects. The firm in 2017 won a $907,000 contract for the work. The change approved on Thursday involved another maximum of $338,000, bringing the overall sum to a little more than $1.2 million. The additional $338,000 represents an upward of 37% increase.
The increased cost is primarily attributed to what City Hall staffers describe as the complexity of the development as well as research into pedestrian and other connectivity possibilities between the arts and culture district and nearby business districts and neighborhood. A City Hall report drafted in anticipation of the meeting on Thursday indicates the firm will consider a pedestrian and bicyclist connection between the district and Prospector. The connection would travel above Bonanza Drive, the report says.
A connection between the arts and culture district and Prospector would advance City Hall’s long-running efforts to link the community through a network of paved trails designed for pedestrians and bicyclists. Officials have argued for years the network, linking the Old Town core with outlying neighborhoods, provides an alternative to driving and reduces traffic.
There is a pedestrian-bicyclist tunnel underneath Bonanza Drive close to the Rail Trail, south of the planned location of the arts and culture district, but another connection at the district itself would be seen as encouraging people to walk or bicycle rather than driving.
The Park City Planning Commission, the panel that will eventually consider a development application for the district, will likely spend significant time on traffic-related issues, including possible alternatives to reduce traffic. A connection linking the district and Prospector as part of the blueprints could be beneficial to the overall talks with the Planning Commission as traffic is addressed.
The Kimball Art Center and the Sundance Institute will design and develop their own buildings. City Hall currently holds the land and intends to sell the parcels to the Kimball Art Center and Sundance Institute.
“The City is leading the collaboration with the intent to allow each partner to further their unique visions and organizational missions, while at the same time functioning as a coordinated and cohesive District,” the City Hall report says.
The report, meanwhile, provides an update on the work, describing a “difficult and time consuming” process during the design phase. City Hall, the Kimball Art Center and the Sundance Institute have individual teams working on the project even as they work toward a common goal for the overall project, the report notes.
“Long hours of hard work and negotiation are necessary to coordinate an independent yet integrated design to achieve overarching District goals and yet preserve the individuality of buildings,” the report also says, adding that the design teams in recent months “have made significant progress on individual building concepts and overall district design.”
City Hall, the Kimball Art Center and the Sundance Institute are finalizing a joint development proposal, with an anticipated submittal to the Park City Planning Department in the spring. The report says the Planning Commission review of an application is expected to last between six and eight months once it is launched.
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Hotel occupancy in the Park City area during Sundance is projected to drop dramatically from a typical year as organizers shift the event online.