Developers redesign project at former Kimball Art Center site |

Developers redesign project at former Kimball Art Center site

City Hall says a proposal to redevelop the former site of the Kimball Art Center appears to be close to meeting the municipal government s tight design guidelines in Old Town. The developer and Park City officials continue to discuss the proposal. Jake Shane/Park Record

The owner of the building where the Kimball Art Center once was located has submitted revised plans to redevelop the property that differ dramatically from two previous ideas for the historic location.

The Park City Planning Department said the proposal does not incorporate any residential square footage. The earlier ideas involved residences in the blueprints. It is a significant change in the ideas for the property, which occupies a high-profile site at the intersection of Main Street and Heber Avenue.

Bruce Erickson, the planning director at City Hall, said the proposal calls for commercial space in the building that previously housed the Kimball Art Center. The developers also want to build an addition on what is now a patio steps off the intersection. The addition, a contemporary design, would include seven retail spaces on the street level and space designed for events on a second story. It would be connected to the historic former Kimball Art Center building with an enclosed walkway and stairway. The plans also call for a deck to be built atop approximately half of the roof of the historic building.

"It appears the concept is coming close to meeting our guidelines," Erickson said.

He acknowledged, though, the addition, designed at between 32 feet and 35 feet in height, appears to be slightly taller than the height allowed at the location. Erickson said the Planning Department and the developer remain in discussions regarding the height and the possibility of a redesign to ensure the proposal meets the requirement. He also said new windows and doors will be added to the Heber Avenue and Park Avenue sides of the historic building.

The Park Record was unable to contact representatives of the developer. The property is under the ownership umbrella of a California firm called Columbus Pacific Properties.

The proposal must win approval through a City Hall process known as a historic district design review, which involves staffers weighing a building design against the municipal government’s strict Old Town guidelines. Staffers hold at least one hearing during a historic district design review and the decision rests with the staff. A staff-level decision can be appealed to City Hall’s Board of Adjustment.

It is largely a similar process that the Kimball Art Center wound through when it owned the property. The not-for-profit organization wanted to build an expansion onto the patio, but it encountered resistance at City Hall. The Planning Department rejected the Kimball Art Center’s proposal through the historic district design review, resulting in the organization selling the property to a developer, temporarily relocating to a building on Kearns Boulevard and considering alternate options for a permanent location.

The exclusively commercial proposal now under consideration follows after further resistance to an earlier idea for the site by the developer who acquired the property.

The long-running talks about the site are a notable example of the difficulties developers encounter in Old Town as they navigate through the City Hall rules. The municipal governments says the strict rules are needed to protect the historic fabric of Main Street and the surrounding neighborhood. But some developers have long claimed that the rules stifle innovative designs and lead to a drawn-out process.

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