Park City arts district land opinions: ‘Home for Kimball Art Center’ or ‘Sell it back to the private sector!’

Open house highlights the wide range of opinions about the future of strategically placed City Hall acreage

People at a Wednesday open house left sticky notes describing ideas for the future of City Hall-owned land at the intersection of Bonanza Drive and Kearns Boulevard, offering a range of possibilities. The crowd left approximately 70 sticky notes in the first 50 minutes of the event.
Jay Hamburger/Park Record

Some still want City Hall to develop an arts district on land off the southwest corner of the intersection of Bonanza Drive and Kearns Boulevard, the intention when the municipal government in the middle of 2017 announced it would acquire the land.

But others see the little more than 5 acres as a preferred location for other uses.

Park City on Wednesday hosted a well-attended open house that was organized to gather opinions about the future of the ground as officials consider whether the concept of an arts district like the one envisioned in 2017 — anchored by the Kimball Art Center and the Utah offices of the Sundance Institute — is feasible.

There was also information available at the event about the future of nearby Snow Creek and Bonanza Park, but many in the crowd appeared to be especially interested in the land where an arts district is under consideration.

At least 200 people attended the event, held at the Doubletree by Hilton Park City-The Yarrow, and the room was packed at many points. Mayor Nann Worel and at least four members of the Park City Council were in attendance, as were several candidates in the City Council election.

The people moved between stations as they talked to officials about the land, left written notes and participated in an exercise allowing them to design a project using thin blocks to represent a variety of uses for the ground, such as residences, garages, park space, art museums or galleries and retailers or restaurants.

The people were also provided sticky notes to provide written input. The comments on the sticky notes, left anonymously, were especially interesting as the attendees described a broad range of opinions that highlight division in the community about the ultimate fate of the land six years after the announcement of the deal. There initially appeared to be widespread support for an arts district, but questions arose amid the pandemic about costs that were projected to run into the tens of millions of dollars.

The current round of discussions are meant to be another look at the project before City Hall and the other parties proceed.

There were approximately 70 sticky notes left in the first 50 minutes of the event. Some of the people wanted an arts district to proceed, citing an apparent desire for the Kimball Art Center to be located there on a permanent basis. Some also desired uses to complement an anchor like the art center, leaving messages hoping for retail space that is within the budget of an artist and representation from artists from the Park City area.

“Home for Kimball Art Center. Art is vital for a vibrant community!” one person wrote on a sticky note.

There was also support for workforce or otherwise restricted affordable housing at the location, with one person writing they prefer an “employee housing village” and another person leaving a message saying “Density with regard to affordable housing.”

A small number of the messages, though, outright questioned the municipal efforts on the land. One of the attendees appeared to remain indignant about the City Hall acquisition of the land, which was priced at $19.5 million and ended a long-running dispute about the former owner’s concept for development.

“Sell it back to the private sector!” the person wrote.

Another person seemed to agree at some level, writing “Privately Owned” and “Properly Zoned & Deeded” with a mix of commercial uses.

Some of the other messages left on sticky notes on Wednesday included:

• “Gas station” along with the Kimball Art Center

• “Food trucks”

• “Wine shop”

• “Trees”

• “Locally sourced market”

• “butcher”

• “A CPA office”

• “outdoor concerts + movies”

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