Park City, criticized, readies defense of Old Town housing project
Park City officials, confronted with criticism of a City Hall plan to build workforce or otherwise restricted housing in the northern reaches of Old Town, have scheduled an open house designed to explain the ambitious project.
The event is slated to occur just days before the Park City Planning Commission is scheduled to return to its discussions about a second phase of Woodside Park housing. The proposal involves 58 units — a mix of townhouses and condominiums — stretching across the 1300 block of Empire Avenue, Woodside Avenue and Norfolk Avenue. Park City leaders intend to price most of the units at levels that are considered to be affordable or attainable while market rates will be attached to five of the units. The sale of the market-rate units will raise funds for the overall project.
The location is in a densely developed part of Park City, but there have been questions about whether a project of the size of the second phase of Woodside Park fits in the neighborhood. The 58 units would make the second phase of Woodside Park one of the largest developments in the neighborhood in years.
The Planning Commission in March held its first meeting about the project as the proposal received mixed opinions. One of the critics who testified worried about the number of units. The panel at the meeting in March was not scheduled to make significant decisions and is scheduled to return to the discussions on May 22, two days after City Hall is scheduled to hold the open house.
Park City’s elected officials after the March meeting of the Planning Commission touched on the second phase of Woodside Park but were not scheduled to address the issue in any depth. There was a concern at that City Council meeting about the spread of what elected officials consider to be inaccurate information about the proposal.
Tim Henney, a City Councilor, at the meeting said he wanted City Hall in some fashion to address what he sees as misinformation. In an interview afterward, Henney rejected a claim that the project is receiving special consideration since the municipal government itself is pursuing the development. He said in the interview the second phase of Woodside Park complies with City Hall’s zoning at the location and other development rules.
Anne Laurent, the community development director at City Hall, said in an interview staffers are concerned about what she, like Henney, considers to be misinformation about the project. She cited talk among critics about the parking requirements of the project, the historic preservation plans and the number of units.
“We want an opportunity to put the correct information out there,” Laurent said, outlining that City Hall is following the same process that would be required of a private sector developer.
She said the municipal government is undertaking a “transparent process” as the discussions about the second phase of Woodside Park continue. Laurent also said the staffers in the Planning Department, which are reviewing the project, are independent from City Hall’s housing staffers. Both divisions, though, are under the umbrella of the Community Development Department that is led by Laurent.
The Planning Department will weigh the project against the same set of development rules that a private sector developer must follow, Laurent said. She said the scenario is similar to what occurs when City Hall develops buildings like water-treatment plants or recreation amenities.
The first phase of Woodside Park is under construction between Park Avenue and Woodside Avenue on the 1300 blocks. The first phase involves four houses and four townhouses, with the townhouses each having an attached rental unit.
Woodside Park is a crucial location as City Hall pursues the goal of adding 800 units of housing deemed to be affordable or attainable by the end of 2026. Rosters of Park City leaders for years have pressed workforce or otherwise affordable housing in an effort to ensure socioeconomic diversity and reduce commuter traffic. Many rank-and-file workers are priced out of Park City’s resort-driven real estate market.
The open house is scheduled on Monday, May 20 from 6 p.m. until 7 p.m. in the community room on the third floor of the Park City Library. Laurent and Jason Glidden, who is the housing development manager at City Hall, are expected to represent the municipal government at the open house. Contact Linda Jager, the community engagement manager at City Hall, at email@example.com or 615-5189 for more information about the event.
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