Bidding war could break out for Kimball Art Center |

Bidding war could break out for Kimball Art Center

One of the best locations in Park City. Development prospects. A piece of history.

The Kimball Art Center is undoubtedly one of the prime pieces of real estate in Park City. It seems there could be widespread buyer interest as the not-for-profit organization’s leadership puts the property on the market.

The Kimball Art Center this week was listed for sale with an asking price of $8 million. The decision to put the property on the market was a result of City Hall’s rejection of the organization’s design for an expansion. The Kimball Art Center saw the expansion as critical to its long-term viability at its current location, 638 Park Ave., located at the high-traffic intersection of Main Street and Heber Avenue. The organization says it will relocate.

In interviews, figures in various segments of Park City’s development or real estate communities indicated they see the Kimball Art Center being a sought-after property. The location is prime and the property offers a buyer options, they say.

"It’s the size. Size is very unique . . . It has development potential. It has character. It has location. And that’s what makes everything work," said Steve Hooker, a commercial real estate broker at Cushman & Wakefield | Commerce and a longtime figure in Main Street real estate.

Hooker said the property could perhaps become convention space for VIP events or specialty businesses.

He said he has talked to two potential buyers. One is a locally based developer and business owner and the other is from Europe, Hooker said. He declined to identify them. Hooker said "chances are good" there will be a bidding war for the Kimball Art Center.

"It’s not going to be inexpensive because it has too much opportunity, too much upside," he said.

An attorney who has been involved in more than 12 real estate transactions along Main Street in recent years, including the Sky Lodge and the Imperial Hotel, sees the intersection where the Kimball Art Center is situated becoming more important as Vail Resorts links Park City Mountain Resort and Canyons Resort under the PCMR moniker. The bottom terminal of PCMR’s Town Lift is steps from the Kimball Art Center. Joe Wrona also mentions the proximity to the Treasure acreage, where a major project is envisioned.

"I think you would find there would be a great deal of interest in that property from a variety of development sources," Wrona said.

He declined to discuss whether any of his clients have expressed an interest in acquiring the Kimball Art Center.

Wrona acknowledged there are complexities to a redevelopment project along Main Street, saying it is a "difficult undertaking." City Hall heavily regulates development, the properties on Main Street are close to each other and there are residences nearby, he said.

He envisions a developer will pursue a project with commercial space on the street level and residential square footage on upstairs floors, a scenario similar to some of the other buildings on or just off Main Street.

Rory Murphy, a developer who is building the Rio Grande project just north of the Kimball Art Center, said he is "certainly interested" in the property. He said he is a prospective buyer, pointing to a scarcity of potential acquisitions on or close to Main Street. There is a "lot of commercial money chasing not that many deals," he said.

Murphy said a buyer will have options for the property, including "heavy residential all the way to pure commercial."

"I think that you’ll have significant interest in the building from anybody that has commercial or development experience in the Main Street area," he said.

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