After Arts Festival partners roll up sleeves to plan arts and culture district |

After Arts Festival partners roll up sleeves to plan arts and culture district

Kimball Art Center, Sundance Institute and city officials turn eyes toward Bonanza Park

Nan Chalat Noaker
The Park Record
A conceptual rendering of a possible configuration for a new Kimball Art Center facility and a new headquarters for the Sundance Institute at the proposed Bonanza Park site.
Graphic courtesy of Park City Municipal Corp.
  • Park City Arts & Culture District: 5.25 acres
  • Sundance Institute Office: 45,000 square feet (projected). Facility will include archive space.
  • Kimball Art Center: 30,000 to 40,000 square feet (projected). Facility will likely include galleries, studio and maker spaces for painting and drawing, ceramics, metal-working, glass fusion and other disciplines, photo labs, and an interactive children’s center.
  • Parking: 400 spaces, provided through a combination of surface, garage and underground facilities. City will fund and maintain.
  • Mixed Use Space: 60,000 to 90,000 square feet, including a mix of retail, dining and office units, as well as potentially affordable/attainable housing.
  • Collaborative Planning & Design Process: 2017–2018
  • Projected Groundbreaking: 2019
Information provided by Park City Municipal Corp.

Amid the bustle of Arts Festival weekend, visitors might not notice that the event’s namesake no longer occupies its iconic spot at the base of Main Street. But they might pick up rumblings about the Kimball Art Center’s role as an anchor tenant for a proposed new arts and culture district in Bonanza Park.

Last month Park City officials announced plans to purchase a 5.25-acre parcel along Kearns Boulevard with the intention of creating an arts and culture district featuring two of the town’s most venerated cultural institutions: the Kimball Art Center and the Sundance Institute. According to an agreement enthusiastically ratified by the Park City Council in July, the Kimball and Sundance will each buy a parcel from the city to build their own facilities. The rest of the property will be developed by the city and will include retail spaces, affordable housing, parking and a transit hub.

The plan was hailed by the mayor of Park City as one of those “rare moments when the right people, the right place and the right reasons come together.”

The proposed district also received wide support at a recent public meeting.

According to the Kimball’s former executive director, Robin Marrouche, who now serves on the board and is helping to oversee the project, “We’re delighted and grateful for the outpouring of support. It truly validates that this is the right idea whose time has come.”

Marrouche was at the helm of the Kimball Art Center when the nonprofit first announced plans to expand its footprint on Main Street and launched an architectural design contest to solicit ideas. The project was stymied, though, by the city’s strictly controlled historic district guidelines. Unable to gain approval for its plan, the Kimball ended up selling its Main Street parcel and moving to a temporary location on Kearns Boulevard.

Looking back, Marrouche says the new concept for Bonanza Park is better for all. “The reaction has been really inspiring, knowing the community is so behind this idea. It wasn’t supposed to happen over there. It was supposed to happen here,” she said.

The Kimball is planning to use proceeds from the sale of the property on Main Street to buy the parcel from the city and is raising additional funds to build a new 30,000- to 40,000-square-foot art center with expanded studio and exhibit spaces. And since the Kimball is already up and running at a temporary spot in Bonanza Park, Marrouche says, “Our hope and intent is that we won’t have to go dark, that we can keep operations going here, and once the construction is finished on the new building, we could move in and it would be a seamless transition.”

Another advantage is the prospect of an enhanced partnership with the Sundance Institute.

According to Marrouche, “We have discussed having a shared space that they might not need through out year to make sure it is utilized. We’ve, started to brainstorm about what can we do together for the community that could be used optimally.”

Marrouche pointed out that the Kimball and Sundance have lots of experience working together, during the Sundance Film Festival, for example. “But this is taking it a giant step further,” she said, adding, “This collaboration has been so positive. We each have our own mission but together we have the community in mind and there is a common goal. We are better together.”

Sundance chimes in

Betsy Wallace, ‎CFO and managing director of the Sundance Institute, agrees and underscored her organization’s commitment to the project.

“I think we are at a perfect time — all the stars are aligned for this to occur,” she said.

“We are excited about Park City being our home. We’ve been here for 30 years and we truly want to be part of an active, engaging arts-and-culture district, known not only within the confines of Park City, but within the state of Utah, within the U.S., and that has an international draw to it,” Wallace added.

Like the Kimball, Sundance has signed a letter of intent with the city describing plans to purchase a parcel within the Bonanza Park property. The goal is to build a projected 45,000-square-foot headquarters. But Wallace said it is too early to be more specific about uses for the space.

“The building is part of a larger campaign. We are really looking at the 40th anniversary of the Sundance Institute, and we are in the process of trying to get a sense of what we need,” said Wallace.

As the Institute looks to the future, Wallace emphasized that it hopes to expand its year-round programs while continuing to fine tune its signature Film Festival in Park City.

“We would love to make sure that our nonprofit is a viable, forward-thinking business that includes the festival, but is not just the festival. It is a 12-month, year-round nonprofit. We do a lot of work to support our artists that is outside of the festival, and we need to make sure we have that taken care of,” she said.

Both Marrouche and Wallace noted the positive impact a dedicated arts-and-culture district could have on the community.

“It would be so exciting to have the ability to confirm that arts and culture are a magnificent draw for people to Park City, and that they remain an economic driver for the state of Utah,” Wallace said.

While the arts district has received a seal of approval from the Park City Council, the partners have a lot of work to do before they can break ground. The city is currently finalizing its purchase of the property from a local developer. Later this month, according to Park City’s Capital Budget, Debt, & Grants Manager Nate Rockwood, the city will issue a Request for Proposals for a design team and consultant to work with the partners through the design and planning process over the next year.


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