Affordable housing at old fire station parcel taking shape
August 26, 2016
The Park City Council continued its march toward addressing affordable housing in the community Thursday evening. At a work session, the Council heard from staff on the redevelopment of the old fire station parcel at 1353 Park Avenue, choosing a preferred design concept that will be presented to the public Sept. 20.
Council awarded a contract to Elliott Work Group June 30 to plan and design affordable housing on the site, and Council was presented Thursday with three concepts to consider. The plot is approximately 2.2 acres between Park and Woodside avenues.
"We're calling it Woodside Park," said Economic Development Director Jonathan Weidenhamer. "If you hate that name, please tell us. You won't hurt our feelings."
In each option, the two historic homes along Park Avenue would be kept in place.
The first option consisted of nine units, five single-family and two duplexes, each with its own dedicated parking. The benefit of that option, Weidenhamer said, is that the process would be more straightforward. The downside is that it would mean driveways backing onto Park Avenue with minimal offset, which he said could prove problematic. It would also, at only nine units, have the lowest density of the three options.
Options 2 and 3 were variations on a similar idea, with a parking lot on the north end of the parcel to provide for higher-density, smaller and more affordable units in the development. Both options would include 12 units: four single-family, four townhomes and four accessory apartments.
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Option 3 would differ in that there would be no parking along Park Avenue, repositioning units closer to the road and allowing for a common area in the middle of the parcel.
City Councilor Becca Gerber said she preferred concept 3 but would like to see more accessory units and townhomes and less single family homes.
"I've said this time and time again, and I get a little bit frustrated, because I feel like every product we are putting out is targeting the same percentage of (Area Median Income)," she said. "This is our first opportunity to come out with our new goal of affordable housing. I think any opportunity we have to bring down the cost of those units and create more units in that space is worthwhile."
She referred to Unit 4 in the concept specifically, saying the $400,000 cost would put it out of reach for most people in need of affordable housing.
"We have this intense issue and we've done nothing to target the people who need it most," she said. "I know there is going to be more density to come. But to get off to a start with building four single-family homes that are worth that much money? I find it very frustrating.
"I have a hard time when we have a problem this big and it feels like we're tapping at it."
Gerber suggested a redesign of Unit 4 and Unit 3 to downsize them and allow for two additional accessory apartments, which Mayor Jack Thomas said he would also support.
City Councilor Andy Beerman said he saw it as a question of parking. The city only has so much wiggle room to add more units when parking also has to be provided. He said he would like to consider covering the parking lot and building additional studio apartments above it, but was told there would be nowhere to add parking for those units.
"I think we need to have a discussion on allowing us to under-park these," he said. "I think that's a discussion we should have soon."
City staff said to keep in mind, once development begins across Woodside Avenue, higher-density parking could be built there that would allow the city to remove parking at this location and add additional units. Residents at the so-called Woodside Park could have their allotted parking across the street. Thomas said he is in favor of that approach.
"I think street-level parking is good," he said. "But with carrying the thinking further and asking, 'what could the possibilities be in the future?'"
Councilor Tim Henney said he likes the accessory apartments and would like to see more added if possible.
"I think they address Becca's concern to some degree," he said. "Not to the extent we would all like but it's a step in the right direction. I have the same issues with the parking lot. I'd like to see us do something with that. If not housing, I'd love to see solar panels on it, help us go in the direction of our net zero goals."
The council ultimately agreed on the third option as their preferred site concept, with the suggested redesign of two of the bigger units to allow for additional apartments.
"The community space is nice to have, but I would rather us use the space to the best of our ability," Gerber said.
Staff said their goal is to begin construction on the site in the spring of 2017.
An open house will be held for the public to weigh in on the project from 5-7 p.m. Sept. 20 at the Park City Library.
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