A present from City Hall: construction shutdowns on Main Street
November 28, 2014
Park City officials ordered a construction shutdown along Main Street during days that are expected to busy on the shopping, dining and entertainment strip in coming weeks, a present, perhaps, from City Hall to businesses and shoppers.
The move is meant to ensure Main Street presents itself well during the holiday shopping season and to keep traffic flowing as Park City becomes busier. There was a similar shutdown during the 2013 holidays that did not receive widespread publicity.
The shutdown was in place on Thursday and Friday and was scheduled to be lifted on Saturday. The Park City Building Department has ordered construction along Main Street to halt between Dec. 24 and Dec. 28 and then again Dec. 29 until Dec. 31. Work with minimal impacts on the street will be allowed between Dec. 29 and Dec. 31 if a contractor receives a special go-ahead from the Building Department.
"The concern is if we have construction during this time it’s not a pleasant experience for visitors," Chad Root, the building official at City Hall, said.
The shutdown impacts construction projects on or just off Main Street. Root said it could also impact projects outside the Main Street core if they are determined to have too many effects on their surroundings.
Root said he anticipates eight projects on or just off Main Street will be required to halt construction during the shutdown. Some of them include The Parkite, the Rio Grande project, a construction project at 692 Main St. and the Silver Queen Hotel.
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He said the shutdown will offer people on Main Street a more pleasant experience without the noise of jackhammers and the warning beeps of heavy machinery backing up.
"It’s going to be a lot quieter, for sure," Root said.
The shutdown periods parallel what are usually busy times on Main Street. The Thursday and Friday stoppage was on Thanksgiving and the traditional start of the holiday shopping season. The one between Dec. 24 and Dec. 28, as well as the one between Dec. 29 and Dec. 31, will occur during Christmas-New Year’s period, which is usually one of the busiest stretches of the year in Park City.
Root acknowledged some of the construction firms working along Main Street saw the shutdowns as "a little expansive."
"It’s kind of walking a fine line," Root said about the shutdown.
The Rio Grande project, situated close to the Town Lift, will remain on schedule even with the shutdowns, the developer said. Rory Murphy, though, said the stoppages will be "impactful, obviously"
"I think that the shutdowns are a result of contractors in the past perhaps not being as respectful as they should have been with the Main Street merchants. So I understand why these moratoriums have been put in place," Murphy said.
Murphy, though, said the shutdowns hurt the construction crews since they will not work those days. They are "paycheck-to-paycheck" workers, he said.
"Any time you have a stop work like this, the unfortunate reality is the individuals that get affected the most are the wage-earning employees," Murphy said.
An extraordinary amount of private-sector investment has poured onto Main Street in the past few years as existing buildings were redeveloped and new projects went up. The remodel of The Parkite, once known as the Main Street Mall, has been perhaps the most visible of them, but there have been projects up and down the street.
The amount of construction, though, strained relations between the projects and Main Street merchants. There were worries along Main Street that the construction projects were hurting sales, particularly at businesses uphill from The Parkite.
The Historic Park City Alliance, a group that represents businesses on or close to Main Street, supports the shutdowns. Alison Butz, the executive director, said the group hopes for a "resort atmosphere" along Main Street. Construction projects do not "provide a quaint atmosphere that we sell to our guests," Butz said.
"For us, we’re happy to hear the Building Department is holding to those dates," Butz said, adding, "We want to look like we’re open and it’s business as usual."