Main Street’s Christmas present: money for more improvements in 2014
If out-of-towners visiting Park City for the holidays return at the same time next year, they will see a changed Main Street streetscape.
And not all the work expected over the next 12 months will be on the buildings. City Hall is preparing for another year of improvements along Main Street as officials continue the efforts to ensure the street remains competitive with other shopping, dining and entertainment districts in the area.
Some work was undertaken in 2013, including redoing segments of sidewalks, but another set of projects is slated in 2014. The Park City Council recently authorized a $165,950 contract with a Salt Lake City firm called MGB+A for design and engineering work. A more lucrative contract will later be awarded to a different firm for the construction itself.
The most notable project planned next year is the construction of a small plaza on Swede Alley, which will be put in the area between the Marsac Building steps and the location of a segment of historic wall that has been uncovered. The historic wall segment will be incorporated into the work.
The small plaza will be significantly scaled back from ideas over the years to build a plaza on Swede Alley that could hold large crowds for concerts and other events. Officials acknowledge that some parking spots will be lost when the small plaza is built, but they want to minimize the number of spots lost.
A design has not been created and the proposed square footage of the small plaza is not yet known. It will be designed to serve as a link between Swede Alley and Main Street.
"I think people will be happy with the look and feel," said Matt Twombly, a City Hall staffer who is managing the municipal work on Main Street and Swede Alley.
Twombly anticipates City Hall will spend upward of $2 million on the improvements in 2014, approximately $500,000 more than was spent in 2013 on streetscape work along Main Street. A voter-approved increase in sales tax paid within the Park City limits is funding the work.
The work could start in March, weather permitting. It is expected to be completed in November.
Some of the projects in 2014 will include:
Main Street leaders in recent years pressed City Hall for improvements, arguing that the streetscape was showing signs of deterioration. They said public investment would attract more people and better position Main Street against newer commercial districts at or close to Kimball Junction. Main Street has faced much stiffer competition, particularly for local and Salt Lake Valley customers, in the past decade as developments like Redstone and Newpark opened.
The work in 2014 will be the third year of a 10-year plan for improvements along Main Street. City Hall has long shown support for Main Street improvements as leaders over the years have endorsed a long list of high-profile public projects, including the China Bridge garage and its expansion as well as the development of small gathering spaces, such as Miners Park.
Main Street leaders have been the chief supporters of the most recent work and the projects that are planned in coming years. Figures from Main Street lobbied in favor of the successful 2012 ballot measure increasing the sales tax to fund the projects.
The Historic Park City Alliance, a group that represents the interests of business in the Main Street core, is pleased with the plans for 2014.
Alison Butz, the group’s executive director, said the work is "just keeping the momentum." Butz said there are places where the pavement is uneven on the Main Street sidewalks and some of the curbs and gutters look "rundown."
"It would make their visit more pleasant," Butz said about visitors and the upcoming improvements.
The publicly funded streetscape improvements are being undertaken at the same time the private sector is heavily investing in Main Street buildings, making 2013 one of the busiest construction years ever on the street. The amount of work, especially the private sector sites, prompted concerns by some that the projects, taken together, overwhelmed Main Street this year.
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A member of the Park City Planning Commission for at least the second time in less than a year spoke publicly about a concept that would financially involve City Hall in a development proposal at Park City Mountain Resort. Planning Commissioner John Phillips did not address the concept in any depth during a lengthy meeting.