Bonanza Park developers win key townhouse vote
January 15, 2016
The Bonanza Park partnership on Wednesday won a preliminary vote at City Hall that allows a development proposal in a high-profile location along Kearns Boulevard to advance into a more detailed municipal planning process.
The Park City Planning Commission cast a unanimous vote in support of The Yard Townhomes, proposed for 1251 Kearns Blvd. The location is now known as The Yard and covers just more than two acres. The land is situated adjacent to a Rocky Mountain Power substation that at one time complicated the development prospects of the Bonanza Park partnership site.
The Planning Commission in its vote determined that the project complies with City Hall’s General Plan, an overarching document that guides growth inside Park City. The panel needed to find the project in compliance for the developer to continue through the process with a formal project application. A Planning Commission review of a formal application is typically more rigorous than a decision regarding General Plan compliance like the one made on Wednesday.
The Bonanza Park partnership, involving Mark J. Fischer and John Paul DeJoria, wants to build 36 residential units at the site 19 townhouses, 15 one-bedroom units and two flats. The units would be spread through five buildings. Most of the project is proposed to be three stories tall, according to Fischer. It does not require existing buildings to be demolished, he said.
Fischer said he anticipates filing a formal application by late in the spring. He did not provide a detailed timeline for a groundbreaking, saying the construction date will be based on the length of the approval process.
The proposal, though, is an important step for the Bonanza Park partnership and the wider district, which is roughly bounded by Bonanza Drive, Park Avenue and Kearns Boulevard. The partnership amassed a patchwork of parcels in Bonanza Park over the years with ambitious ideas to redevelop what has been seen as a more utilitarian district of Park City. The Yard is considered the prime piece of ground based on its size and the central location in Bonanza Park. A development there could set a tone for other properties under the control of the partnership.
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The development proposal, meanwhile, is under review in the months after City Hall scrapped its efforts to craft a newfangled planning and zoning tool that had initially been seen by officials as having great promise as Bonanza Park developed. Leaders spent upward of five years discussing the prospects of what is known as a form-based code. Some saw such a code as providing better design options for Bonanza Park.
Many people argued against a form-based code, though, claiming it would lead to undesirable development patterns. Fischer ultimately became concerned about the potential impacts on the partnership’s properties. The project at 1251 Kearns Blvd. is under review against City Hall’s traditional development rules regulating what are considered general commercial locations.
In an interview after the Planning Commission vote, Fischer said he is "very encouraged." He touted the location of the parcel close to bus lines and within walking distance of businesses. He said the project would offer "in-town living of all types."
"I think it went well because we listened to what the Planning Commission and City Council want," Fischer said.
The Planning Commission received testimony from two people prior to the vote. They covered issues like space to store snow and the proposed design. One of the speakers was Clay Stuard, a onetime member of the Planning Commission who was highly critical of the idea to create a form-based code in Bonanza Park. Stuard praised the design but said there had not yet been enough analysis of the site.
Planning Commission members touched on a variety of topics in their comments. Steve Joyce, a panel member, mentioned he eventually wants to address the number of units that will be made available for rentals on a nightly basis. Another Planning Commissioner, Melissa Band, said she would like restrictions put on nightly rentals at the site and praised the design. Adam Strachan, a Planning Commissioner, also wanted restrictions on rentals on a nightly basis.
Bruce Erickson, the planning director, told the panel staffers have concerns about the amount of glass envisioned in the architectural designs. He said staffers intend to discuss the architectural details with the developer.
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