Park City readies talk about arts district amid Sundance, Kimball Art Center layoffs
Park City officials on Thursday are scheduled to discuss plans to develop an arts and culture district along Kearns Boulevard and Bonanza Drive, a project involving City Hall, the Kimball Art Center and the Sundance Institute.
The Park City Council meeting on Thursday is scheduled in the days after the two not-for-profit organizations that are seen as anchoring the district indicated the economic turmoil wrought by the spread of the novel coronavirus has forced layoffs.
The three parties have been in long-running talks about the development of the district, and there has appeared to be broad public support for the project as well as backing by the leadership of City Hall, Sundance and the Kimball Art Center.
The discussion on Thursday, though, will be the first significant public talk about the project since the breadth of the economic woes became clear. The Kimball Art Center canceled the annual Park City Kimball Arts Festival that was scheduled later in the summer while the Sundance Film Festival remains on the calendar but with a radically altered concept. The events are crucial to the budgets of the organizations. City Hall itself, meanwhile, recently held the most difficult budget talks in years with more discussions expected to be held later.
David Everitt, a deputy Park City manager, drafted a report in anticipation of the meeting on Thursday that addresses the project in the context of the impacts of the coronavirus. He argues the project should move forward.
“The easy path is clear — retreat, and inform the community and stakeholders of a project suspension due to the health pandemic and its economic and social impacts . . . Despite the easy path, the City’s design team, stakeholders, and staff see a unique opportunity to continue the project and utilize the post-COVID-19 phase of recovery to fuel and galvanize local support and creativity,” the report says.
Everitt says in the report City Hall could “capitalize on historically low financing costs and potentially favorable construction bids” if the project proceeds and says “the project could contribute to shoring up the local economy through construction jobs, related economic recovery, and ultimately (through) creating long-term economic opportunity for the region’s artists, artisans, creatives, and non-profits.”
He also acknowledges in the report City Hall “recognizes that the District Partners will likely need to adjust their timing for their respective building projects while the economy recovers from the effects of the pandemic.”
The development is estimated to cost City Hall nearly $70 million, not including the $19.5 million the municipal government paid for the land. The municipal government intends to recoup some of the total as it sells land to Sundance and the Kimball Art Center for their buildings as well as the lease of housing envisioned as part of the project.
The development is seen as something that would advance Park City’s arts and cultural offerings and help diversify a local economy that relies heavily on the ski industry.
The City Council meeting is scheduled to start at 4:35 p.m. It will be held electronically. More information about attending the meeting virtually, as well as providing comments to the elected officials, is available on the City Hall website, parkcity.org. The direct link to information about the meeting is parkcity.org/government/city-council/city-council-meetings/current-public-meeting-info-listen-live.
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