Park City housing plans: oh, the location, or ugh, the location? (w/ video)
March 16, 2019
City Hall plans to start building a major workforce or otherwise affordable housing project on the northern edge of Old Town as early as late in the summer, a development that will involve dozens of units of housing stretching between the 1300 blocks of Woodside Avenue and Empire Avenue.
The second phase of the Woodside Park district, the project is expected to entail 58 units of housing. There will be townhouses and condominiums. The plans for the second phase of Woodside Park appeared to be one of the highlights at a City Hall-hosted open house on Tuesday evening at the Park City Library as Parkites learned the details.
The project drew a range of reactions that illustrated the dramatic differences between Parkites as they weigh City Hall's long-running housing programs. The housing efforts over the years have drawn widespread support peppered with criticism about the details of individual projects.
The opinions of two of the people at the open house illustrated the thinking regarding City Hall's housing plans in Woodside Park. One of the attendees, Alex Lyman, said he is considering submitting an application to acquire a unit in Woodside Park once they are made available. Another person at the event, Terri Loriaux, though, questioned whether Woodside Park is the best location for the housing.
Lyman, a bell captain at The Chateaux Deer Valley, lives with his girlfriend in restricted housing at Bear Hollow. He said he will consider participating in the selection process once City Hall outlines the details. He said there would be many benefits to living in Woodside Park.
"The location, just closer to town. It'd be closer to work," Lyman said.
Lyman and his girlfriend, Sabrina Tsao, each have a season pass at Park City Mountain Resort, he said, describing Woodside Park as within walking distance to the lifts.
Loriaux, who lives in Old Town and owns a rental unit close to the location of the planned Woodside Park development, said she understands the ideals behind the City Hall housing program, such as guarding against the community becoming a "ghost town." She said she supports the overall housing program. But she questions whether City Hall should pursue a project in a spot where the land is so valuable.
"You're putting in affordable housing in an area that is walking distance to skiing," she said. "It doesn't necessarily have to be so close to the resort."
She said the Woodside Park land could be "better optimized." Perhaps, she said, City Hall could sell part of the Woodside Park land and put the revenues toward a larger workforce or otherwise affordable project elsewhere.
Loriaux also said she is concerned with issues such as the height of the housing, the traffic that would be generated and the number of units. She also noted the size of the individual units, saying the smaller ones will not be attractive to families based on their expected square footage. Loriaux said the architectural look of the designs and the proposed construction materials fit with the neighborhood.
"Could we get more houses in a less expensive location," she said, adding, "People would spend a fortune for ski-in, ski-out properties."
The event drew a crowd of upward of 75 people. Mayor Andy Beerman and at least three members of the Park City Council attended. City Hall designed the open house to provide information about numerous programs and projects at a single event toward the beginning of the construction season.
The booth dedicated to the Woodside Park project attracted a stream of interested Parkites on Tuesday evening as people quizzed City Hall staffers about the project. Some of the people spent extensive time studying the details and timelines. A poster board described City Hall's broad housing efforts, showing completed projects and those that are planned.
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Park City is pursuing an aggressive housing program with the goal of adding 800 units to the affordable stock by 2026 and adding 220 of the overall goal by the end of 2020. Woodside Park is one of the key projects. A first phase of Woodside Park — four houses and four townhouses — is under construction. The 800-unit goal relies on a combination of City Hall projects, private sector requirements and potential public-private partnerships. The source of nearly 300 units of the overall goal, however, has not been identified and has not been funded, according to municipal materials that were on display at the open house.
Park City leaders have for years pursued housing as a priority in a community where the resort-driven real estate market, the most expensive in the state, prices out many rank-and-file workers. Leaders say the housing efforts lead to benefits like socioeconomic diversity and reduced commuter traffic.
Jason Glidden, the housing development manager at City Hall, spent time on Tuesday evening explaining Woodside Park to interested people throughout the event. He said in an interview he received numerous positive comments about the housing progress and the designs.
"The design really fits the neighborhood with the look and the feel of it," Glidden said, summarizing the opinions he gathered from the crowd.