Crews fence in Sky Lodge site
David Schultz’s nature-photography gallery sits in the Marriott Summit Watch, just down the street from what will be downtown’s major construction zone this summer.
Business at the gallery, he predicts, will likely suffer as crews start building what is being called the Sky Lodge, a condominium hotel, at the northeast corner of the Main Street-Heber Avenue intersection.
In the last few days, the workers have put up construction fencing around the site, 1.13 acres, signaling the start of the project. The Sky Lodge is being touted as a needed upscale spot for people to stay downtown.
"It certainly isn’t going to improve traffic having the fence there," Schultz said, conceding that the lodge, once it opens, will be good for the city.
The Sky Lodge, with its size and prime location, is expected to be among the most challenging Main Street construction projects in years.
The Main Street-Heber Avenue intersection serves as the unofficial crossroads of Old Town and the work is anticipated to run through fall 2007.
The Building Department most likely will not allow the builders to close streets for the construction, according to Michelle Downard, the department’s code-enforcement officer, tightening the amount of space they have.
But Bill Shoaf, the managing partner of the lodge, is confident in the crew’s abilities to not disturb the neighborhood too much. He notes that the lodge’s steel frame will be manufactured in Salt Lake City and then brought to the site and says that Jacobsen Construction, the general contractor, understands the challenges of building in a downtown, saying Jacobsen is, "very adept at working in tight situations."
"We are trying to minimize the impacts," Shoaf said, adding that his team developed a plan for the construction over 1 1/2 years.
He said the crews hope to start excavating the site next week. Downard said the crews intend to dig up 20,000 cubic yards of dirt during the excavation.
The ground is regulated by City Hall’s so-called soils ordinance, which regulates land contaminated from Park City’s mining era, meaning that approximately 1,300 dump-truck trips are necessary to haul the dirt out. Downard said it has not been decided where the dirt will be deposited and Shoaf said the developers plan to safely remove the dirt to either Richardson Flats or a repository in Tooele.
Downard said construction traffic will enter and exit the site at two locations, one off Main Street nearby Zoom and the other off Heber Avenue, between the Poison Creek Mercantile building and Easy Street Brassiere.
"It’s a large structure so impacts can’t be avoided," Downard said.
The government and the developer agreed to a four-page set of rules for the construction. The details include barring construction during periods that bring lots of people to Main Street, like Independence Day, the art festival, Christmas week and the Sundance Film Festival. They also bar the workers from driving or parking construction equipment on Heber Avenue and Main Street.
According to the rules, the crews are allowed to work from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Sundays.
The developers plan to build 22 units. City Hall pored over the plans given Sky Lodge’s location and the discussions regarding the lodge’s affordable-housing requirements were especially intriguing.
Last winter, the Park City Council voted to allow the developers to pay $206,406.60 into a housing fund rather than making them build 3.45 units of worker housing.
Shoaf’s side asserted that the building would be too bulky if the affordable housing was built inside. The City Council grudgingly agreed and accepted the payment but indicated that it is preferred that developers build the required affordable housing rather than pay the fees.
The Sky Lodge is one of the largest private-sector construction projects in the Main Street area in some time and follows a year after City Hall built a parking garage in Swede Alley. The lodge, however, because it is located off of Main Street, is not expected to greatly impact the street’s summertime business.
During the work, Zoom and Easy Street Brassiere will temporarily close. Shoaf said Zoom plans to reopen in December and Easy Street in September 2007.
Karen McComb, the manager at the nearby Bahnhof Sport, said she is not concerned that the construction will ruin business, noting that her store is close to the Town Lift, a draw in the summer and winter.
"I think this side will be fine," she said. "Everybody will have to walk down this side of the street."
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The Park City lodging industry in recent weeks experienced an uptick in projected occupancy numbers during the dates of the Sundance Film Festival, but the figures remain depressed from a typical year during the largest special event on the city’s calendar.