Park City proudly previews affordable Old Town houses
Peg Ross has lived in the Park City area for 30 years, raising a family amid the community’s boom years.
Ross, an accounting clerk who lives in Kimball Junction, is readying to move into the Park City limits, roughly six months after she won the right to purchase a place in a City Hall-developed work force or otherwise restricted project.
The eight-house development, known as The Retreat at the Park and located at 1450-1460 Park Ave., is part of the municipal government’s aggressive housing program. Park City leaders want to add 800 units of restricted housing by 2026. By 2020, officials say, they want to finish 220 of the overall goal of 800 units. The work at The Retreat at the Park started in the fall of 2016.
City Hall officials on Wednesday morning offered a preview of The Retreat at the Park, gathering at the site to proudly talk about the project as a success of the municipal housing program. Some of the people toured the house where Ross will soon live. They put cloth boots over their shoes to walk through the residence, lingering in the kitchen and the bedroom.
“I can’t believe it’s coming true,” Ross said, adding, “I never thought I’d be able to buy a home in Park City, ever, ever.”
Ross described The Retreat at the Park as offering a prime location in Old Town. She is able to walk many places, City Park is just outside and there is also a bus route on Park Avenue outside the development. She plans to move in within 30 days.
“Being in the middle of things, basically. … Feeling a part of Park City,” Ross said.
The Retreat at the Park is one of City Hall’s most ambitious housing projects and was developed at a time when municipal leaders are worried that Park City’s resort-driven real estate market has priced many rank-and-file community members out of the city. Officials say the housing program provides a variety of benefits like ensuring socioeconomic diversity and reducing commuter traffic.
The units at The Retreat at the Park range in price between $192,153 and $280,291, far lower than comparable places in surrounding Old Town. City Hall last fall held a lottery to select the buyers. It was a joyous occasion as members of the Park City work force won the right to purchase a home in a community where they otherwise would struggle to afford to buy a place. The project entails two restored historic houses and six new ones. City Hall recouped much of the development cost through the sales of the units.
Ninety-nine people entered the lottery last fall as they sought a unit in The Retreat at the Park or one of three other projects in Park City or the Snyderville Basin. Sixty-nine of the applications listed the Park Avenue project as the first choice and another 11 labeled it the second choice, illustrating the desirability of the project.
There have been various ideas for 1450-1460 Park Ave. in the nine years since the municipal government acquired the land in a $750,000 deal. City Hall at one point intended to sell the land to a group that wanted to build what is known as a cohousing project, or one where the people who plan to live in a development have a critical role in the designs. The deal was not finalized and City Hall ultimately opted to develop the land itself as part of the municipal housing program.
The event on Wednesday drew a crowd of City Hall officials, including Mayor Andy Beerman and each of the five members of the Park City Council. Members of the project team were also in attendance.
In remarks to the crowd, the mayor said the project was the result of years of talks about the location. He noted the two historic houses were restored and outlined the 800-unit goal, calling it a “big task in front of us.”
“We’re losing the very fabric of our community,” Beerman said, describing that so many of the residences in Park City are vacation homes and contending the project at 1450-1460 Park Ave. is part of a community-building effort.
Beerman praised the project as providing a “car-optional experience,” said The Retreat at the Park is outfitted with environmentally friendly features and touted the central location.
As the people moved through the house where Ross will live, she looked forward to settling in.
“I can’t wait to have a house full of people, full of my friends,” she said. “It feels like home already.”
A critic of a Park City workforce or otherwise affordable housing project in Old Town said he is considering an appeal of the Park City Planning Commission’s approval of the development.