As sales suffer, accord sought at Main Street construction zone |

As sales suffer, accord sought at Main Street construction zone

by Jay Hamburger THE PARK RECORD

City Hall anticipates reaching an agreement next week with the team redeveloping the building once known as the Main Street Mall to reduce the impacts of the construction on nearby businesses.

Park City officials, representatives from the contractor and a Main Street leader are scheduled to meet Wednesday afternoon to discuss possibilities at the site. The construction zone, the largest on Main Street, has come to symbolize an increasingly tense situation along the popular shopping, dining and entertainment strip. There have been widening complaints in recent weeks about a drop in sales on Main Street that businesses are pinning on a series of construction sites.

Businesses close to the onetime Main Street Mall site, particularly those uphill from the construction zone, are especially displeased. They say that sales in some cases have tanked as pedestrians have not ventured past the construction zone to the businesses beyond.

Chad Root, the chief building official at City Hall and one of the municipal government’s negotiators, outlined three options for the site in an interview on Thursday.

They are:

  • generally keeping the site as it has been. He said the option also involves moving the Main Street-facing section of fence in and out to allow sidewalk access when it is safe to do so. The fence would be further decorated as well in an effort to make it more aesthetically pleasing.
  • moving a covered walkway onto the west side sidewalk from the street, making it more visible to pedestrians. Under the option, the sidewalk on the west side would be closed to pedestrians until noon each day. Parking spots just outside the construction zone on both sides of Main Street would be opened daily on a staggered schedule. Parking is currently prohibited at that location as a result of the construction zone.
  • moving the covered walkway to the gutter on the west side of the street from the street itself, giving the construction crew more room to maneuver. The affected parking spots on the east side of Main Street would be opened at noon. The contractor would be allowed to park on the west side of Main Street until 4 p.m. each day. There would be no parking on the west side after 4 p.m. The sidewalk on the west side of Main Street would be closed from 7 a.m. until noon each day.

    Root in the interview cautioned the second and third options could slow progress, extending the work by up to a year beyond the expected completion date. The developer recently indicated the project could be completed in December. The second and third options involve shifting loading, unloading and material storage to the upper Park Avenue side of the site, Root said. Doing so could be politically risky, though, given the residential nature of upper Park Avenue. The people who live there would almost certainly object.

    "There’s no win on it, for sure. It’s a no-win situation," Root said.

    Root spoke to Mayor Jack Thomas and the Park City Council during a Thursday meeting, describing the ongoing talks between City Hall, the contractor and Main Street. He said the sides remain concerned. Root acknowledged that the contractor did not make significant adjustments over the past week while waiting for further direction from the elected officials. More skis were affixed to the Main Street-facing construction fence, though, he said.

    Root told the elected officials the construction crews at the former Main Street Mall site could at some point request to be allowed to temporarily close part of Main Street to traffic to bring a crane to the location under the second and third options.

    Thomas and the City Council took comments from a few people about the construction zone. Two speakers worried about activity being shifted to upper Park Avenue. Another speaker, The Eating Establishment owner Rick Anderson, said it is important that sidewalks remain open as he described a decline in sales. He worried that the work is setting a precedent along Main Street.

    In an interview on Friday, project representative Rinaldo Hunt said he anticipates there will be "minor changes" to the way the construction is proceeding as a result of the meeting scheduled on Wednesday. The sides are attempting to reach an agreement that protects safety, works with the businesses and allows the project to proceed, he said.

    An extraordinary amount of private sector investment has poured onto Main Street amid an ownership realignment since the depths of the recession. There are construction projects of varying sizes up and down the street as owners undertake ambitious renovations. The former Main Street Mall site will be redeveloped with 15 condominiums on the upstairs floors and retail space on the Main Street level.

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