Park City workers ‘feel heard’ as City Hall aggressively pursues housing for them
Ryan Nash and her fiance, Brian Espaillat, want to move their family from Heber City to Park City, where she grew up and works at an Old Town restaurant.
The couple hopes to bring their infant and a 12-year-old from a previous relationship of Espaillat to a new home in Park City. It would be closer to their work and bring them into the community. Nash is an assistant manager at a restaurant while Espaillat works at another restaurant in the Main Street core. But housing opportunities are scarce. The couple, like so many other rank-and-file workers, is essentially priced out of Park City’s resort-driven real estate market.
Nash and Espaillat on Monday attended an event at the Park City Library hosted by City Hall and the not-for-profit Mountainlands Community Housing Trust. It was designed to provide information about City Hall’s workforce or otherwise affordable housing program at a time when the municipal government is preparing to select buyers for the first phase of the Woodside Park development in the northern reaches of Old Town, along Park Avenue and Woodside Avenue.
“We can’t afford regular housing, so this is helping out,” Espaillat said.
He described that the wealthy are buying places that are sold on the open market in Park City, making it more difficult for the rank-and-file workers. The couple intends to, ideally, seek to acquire a three-bedroom unit in a City Hall project. Nash said the availability of City Hall-developed housing for the workforce is “attractive to locals” and officials are responding to the wishes of community members.
“I feel heard,” Nash said, adding that she appreciates “their willingness to work with you” as potential buyers consider the different units that are available.
Nash said she would like to raise her daughter in Park City while Espaillat said the municipal offering is a “great program for locals that can’t afford million-dollar housing.”
Approximately 40 people attended the event at the library, the fourth and final one of a series of similar gatherings held since the middle of November. The presenters provided detailed information about projects and the buying opportunities, including the qualifications. Much of the attention was on the first phase of Woodside Park, but the organizers also publicized the availability of an unrelated unit for the workforce at Silver Star, a development on the edge of Thaynes Canyon and on the slopes of Park City Mountain Resort.
Rhoda Stauffer, the affordable housing program manager at City Hall, provided a rundown of some of the key points regarding the first phase of Woodside Park, an eight-unit project with seven available in the upcoming sale. Some of the restrictions on the units include:
• an appreciation that is capped at 3 percent annually
• a limit on the improvements that can be made to a unit, a restriction designed to ensure the places remain affordable to the workforce
• a buyer cannot own another property
• a buyer cannot deed a place to others or put a place into a trust
• an annual compliance report is required
Stauffer also said people typically want to buy houses, but that category of stock will be limited in the future. She said condominiums rather than houses are expected to be developed in workforce or otherwise affordable projects, explaining that there is not enough land in Park City for a development with houses.
Stauffer also answered a variety of questions from the audience, including explaining that someone is not required to remain in the mandatory income range to buy a unit once they own the place. She also answered a question about homeowners association dues, saying the numbers will be available prior to someone needing to decide whether to pursue a unit.
Slides shown at the event described the diminishing amount of land available for workforce housing even as people want a “House on a hill” and a “rural feel” with lots of employment opportunities and the Park City lifestyle. Another slide noted what was described as an “affordability gap” for Snyderville Basin houses. The slide calculated the affordability gap to be $800,000, meaning the difference between the median sale price of a home and the size of a loan for a household that earns the median income.
The first phase of Woodside Park involves houses ranging in price from $205,000 to $565,000 and townhouses priced at $359,000, well below the prices in surrounding Old Town. The deadline for filing a pre-application to acquire a unit was Friday night. City Hall received widespread interest in the units well before the deadline hit.
Park City leaders are pursuing an aggressive housing program designed to add 800 units of restricted housing by the end of 2026 through City Hall projects, obligations of the private sector and public-private partnerships. Leaders see the housing program as something that brings the community broad benefits, such as reducing commuter traffic and ensuring socioeconomic diversity. The City Hall housing program provides the possibility of ownership for the workforce in the most expensive real estate market in the state.
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