Park City government acknowledges ‘the future of many local businesses remains uncertain’
A City Hall report drafted in anticipation of a Park City Council meeting that was scheduled on Tuesday acknowledged that “the future of many local businesses remains uncertain,” a statement published by the municipal government amid an uptick in commerce since the depths of the coronavirus-forced shutdowns in the spring but also at a time of persistent chatter of a continuing slump nonetheless.
The report, authored by Jenny Diersen, the economic development program manager at City Hall, was written as the elected officials were preparing to discuss alterations to the Main Street pedestrian days. The pedestrian days, which debuted this year, are designed to attract people to Main Street by providing a car-free atmosphere and space for social distancing. The pedestrian days are one of the key steps taken by City Hall to boost business in the community.
Sales at some of the Main Street businesses on the pedestrian days and other days have appeared to be solid, but the numbers at other places remain at reduced levels compared to a typical summer.
The report indicates officials have not compiled “reliable, individual and statistically relevant year over year sales data,” but “staff believes the event can be considered ‘successful’ based on anecdotal comments as well as various data sets and trends.”
“However, many local businesses are still suffering due to the mandated Spring closures, social distancing regulations, and lack of special events and overall visitation. While the future of many local businesses remains uncertain, Economic Development staff continue to support efforts to create a more flexible and adaptive business environment,” the report says.
The executive director of the Historic Park City Alliance, a group that represents businesses in the Main Street core, said in June there was the possibility of permanent closures as a result of the drop in sales. Alison Kuhlow, the executive director, at the time indicated she was aware of approximately 10 businesses under threat of closing permanently based on the continued drop in sales compared to 2019.
Kuhlow in June used similar language as the report prepared for the City Council meeting this week, saying then the “future is very uncertain” for the approximately 10 businesses. One of the well-known businesses on Main Street, the Main Street Deli, has since announced a permanent closure.
The report from Diersen covers a range of other issues related to the pedestrian days on Main Street. They include:
• 43 businesses are participating in outside activities that are a part of the overall recovery efforts. The businesses include 18 restaurants or bars, 16 retailers, two unspecified activities, two cafes, four galleries and one real estate firm.
• a comment that “while the program has been successful for some businesses, other businesses are struggling and do not attribute increased sales to car-free Sundays.”
• City Hall has offered programming meant to “help build vibrancy yet not draw large crowds,” such as balloon art, chalk art, pop-up concerts and glass blowing.
• parking at the China Bridge garage hit a peak at 5 p.m. on July 12, reaching 72% occupancy. Bus ridership, meanwhile, is trending higher on Sundays throughout the system.
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City Hall in December posted strong sales-tax numbers, powering past projections and nearly equaling the figure from the same month in the previous year, as Park City continued to beat expectations amid the continued spread of the novel coronavirus.