California developer reaches deal for Kimball Art Center |

California developer reaches deal for Kimball Art Center

A California development firm on Tuesday said it has reached a deal to acquire the Kimball Art Center and last week submitted paperwork at City Hall outlining a major redevelopment of the historic property.

The firm is called LCC Properties. The key figure in the firm is David Luber, best known in Park City as the onetime leader of the Deer Crest development efforts. Terms of the deal were not released. The property was on the market for $8 million.

A prepared statement provided by LCC Properties at the request of The Park Record indicated the Kimball Art Center is under contract and the firm is now researching the property in what is known as the due diligence phase of a real estate transaction.

"We’re very excited to have been selected by the Kimball board to be the potential new stewards of this exceptional real estate," Luber said in the prepared statement. "While we are just in the initial stages of reviewing the project’s overall feasibility, we are proposing to introduce a world class residential and commercial development that is commensurate with the quality and visibility of this unsurpassed location."

Luber said in the statement LCC Properties intends to "preserve historic elements of the existing building in an overall project design that is compatible with historic Main Street and city preservation policies."

He said Park City is the "preeminent ski destination" in North America, noting Vail Resorts’ arrival in the community and planned improvements at Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Resort.

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City Hall received the paperwork on Dec. 9 outlining the plans to redevelop the property. Officials released the information on Tuesday in response to a Park Record request under state open-records laws. The paperwork is known as a pre-application for a design review in the historic district. A pre-application is an initial step in the City Hall development process.

The paperwork refers to the project as the Kimball Residences & Shops. It includes a two-page narrative describing the proposal.

According to the narrative, the developer wants to renovate the Kimball Art Center building itself into 7,500 square feet of shops on the main level and 5,700 square feet of shops on the lower level, referred to as the garden level.

The narrative says the elevations of the historic building will be maintained while "features such as the brick and cast concrete façade and steel ‘factory’ windows will be restored." A 2,500-square-foot addition is planned on the roof. It will be hidden from street-level view, the submittal says. Luber said the design envisions adding one story to part of the historic building with a garden atop that level.

A structure would be put up at the Main Street-Heber Avenue intersection connected in some fashion to the historic building. It would house 8,200 square feet of commercial space on two levels and three floors of residences built in a loft style. There are 11 residences planned totaling 17,200 square feet. They would be sold as whole-ownership or fractional-ownership units, the paperwork says.

The new building will "make use of iconic turn-of-the-nineteenth century building details, scale . . . " to "contribute to the character of the historic zone," the paperwork says.

City Hall has started processing the submittal. Anya Grahn, the preservation planner for the municipal government, said a meeting of City Hall’s design-review team is scheduled on Wednesday. The team includes representatives of the Planning Department, the Building Department and a preservation consultant. Feedback and more meetings will follow prior to the developer submitting a full application asking for the designs to be reviewed against City Hall’s strict Old Town guidelines.

City Hall staffers hold the authority to approve or reject the designs. The staff-level determination could be appealed to either the Park City Planning Commission or City Hall’s Old Town panel, called the Historic Preservation Board, depending on the nature of an appeal.

The Kimball Art Center, a not-for-profit organization that operates the art center and offers numerous art classes, put the property on the market after Park City officials rejected a proposal for a major expansion. City Hall determined that the designs drawn up by a renowned architect for the Kimball Art Center expansion, more modern looking than other buildings along Main Street, did not fit the guidelines. The art center pursued the same City Hall process that the developer started with its recent submittal.

The Kimball Art Center says there is not enough room for growth in the historic property. The organization intends to relocate. Details about a new site have not been made public.

There was expected to be widespread interest from developers given that the Kimball Art Center occupies a sought-after location at the intersection of Main Street and Heber Avenue.

The Kimball Art Center’s own concepts for an expansion at the Old Town site split the community. Supporters of the design argued that modern architecture worked at the site as a contrast to the historic building. Critics, though, seized on the look, contending the modern architecture would disrupt the historic streetscape.