Park City within weeks plans to file paperwork to develop arts district |

Park City within weeks plans to file paperwork to develop arts district

City Hall plans to develop an arts and culture district along Kearns Boulevard and Bonanza Drive, on land acquired from the Bonanza Park partnership.
Jay Hamburger/Park Record

City Hall within weeks intends to file an application involving the development of an arts and culture district along Bonanza Drive and Kearns Boulevard, a move that has been anticipated for three years but one that will be made amid the economic uncertainty wrought by the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Mayor Andy Beerman and the Park City Council at a meeting on Thursday discussed the plans for the district and were presented a tentative timeline by staffers. The timeline calls for the application to be submitted to the Park City Planning Department sometime in July. The submittal will trigger a process before the Planning Commission that will likely be closely watched across the community as City Hall itself seeks one of its largest development approvals in a high-profile location.

The staffers also anticipate asking the elected officials to consider a contract for design work shortly, in July or August. A contract for demolition work could be brought to the City Council to consider in September followed by the start of the demolition in November. The timeline also highlights a November expectation for the City Council to consider awarding a construction contract.

The work would start in April with footings, the foundation and the construction of a garage. The vertical construction would start in June of 2022 with an opening of the arts and culture district in November of 2023, under the timeline shown on Thursday.

The mayor and City Council were not scheduled to make important decisions at the meeting on Thursday, but it was one of the most detailed updates from staffers regarding the project since the havoc caused by the coronavirus. City Hall’s budgeting in the spring and early summer was the most difficult since the depths of the recession a decade ago while the two not-for-profits that are partnering with City Hall — the Kimball Art Center and the Sundance Institute — are struggling financially and recently announced layoffs.

Staffers, though, have countered that the timing could be advantageous to the project. There could be benefits from financing rates that are historically low and there is the potential for reduced costs of construction, they outlined in the presentation. They also indicated there could be a benefit to the area economy on a short-term basis as well as a long-term one.

The development is projected to cost nearly $70 million, a sum that does not include the $19.5 million acquisition of the land. There was limited discussion about the numbers on Thursday, with City Councilor Steve Joyce inquiring about the possibility of pursuing the development in stages as the funds are raised.

The elected officials also briefly discussed what they see as the importance of pedestrian routes. Bonanza Drive and Kearns Boulevard — two of the busiest roads in the city — would border the development, meaning that City Hall and the design team are expected to attempt to craft a project that would not generate a significant amount of traffic in a location that already suffers backups. Tim Henney, a city councilor, talked about a connection crossing Bonanza Drive while others spoke of the importance of the pedestrian routes.

The district would feature buildings housing the Kimball Art Center and the Utah headquarters of the Sundance Institute as the anchors. City Hall would sell land to the two organizations for them to develop themselves. It would also have workforce or otherwise affordable housing and businesses that align with the arts and culture nature of the district.

Leaders see the district as something that will boost the community’s standing as a destination for arts and culture and further diversify the Park City economy, which currently relies heavily on the ski industry.

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