NoMa’s plan: skiing’s SoHo
The glass skyway at Rodman Jordan’s office frames a panorama of a patchwork of businesses along Bonanza Drive and Kearns Boulevard.
Retailers and offices sit next to hotels, a gas station and fast-food restaurants in the neighborhood, where few Parkites live but lots of people travel through, going to work, heading to Park City’s ski resorts or driving to Main Street.
Jordan, a 47-year-old developer, sees the neighborhood as becoming Park City’s hip destination, a ski-town SoHo, filled with boutiques, lofts and people milling about. It would be Park City’s next great neighborhood, he envisions, in his words, a "very happening spot."
"If it’s a cool and viable experience for the locals, the visitors are lucky to have that as an opportunity," Jordan said this week.
A Texan who moved from Dallas to Park City in 1998, Jordan is the key figure in what is seen as one of the city’s most ambitious redevelopments, encompassing properties spreading through the neighborhood.
Marketers have dubbed the district ‘NoMa,’ meaning North of Main. They concede it is a play on SoHo, which stands for South of Houston, the famously hip neighborhood in Manhattan that Jordan lauds when he talks about its architecture and boutiques.
With Jordan as their leader, the merchants in NoMa have rallied, pressing City Hall for improvements and expanding the district from its original boundaries along Bonanza Drive to encompass a huge swath of Prospector, west to Snow Creek and Park City Mountain Resort. About 50 businesses are paying members of the NoMa district, most spending $125 each year for membership, and Jordan predicts the number will rise to 80 by the end of 2006.
They are challenging the area’s other shopping districts for business, Main Street being the most notable. With new projects contemplated in the district, the merchants predict NoMa will become a formidable destination.
"We want to let everyone know that within our little district we have a lot of shops," said Sara Henry, who sells wine accessories at her Art of Wine, a shop in Snow Creek Plaza.
Much of the current-day NoMa is not what tourists expect when they plan a ski trip. It has just a smattering of swankiness, an art gallery, for instance, and lots of bland-looking buildings where some of Park City’s white-collar jobs are based.
Jordan wants the district to become a more distinctive shopping neighborhood. He plans to have space for 75 new retailers within his developments in NoMa nine projects with a combined 100,000 square feet.
Places like White Pine Touring, the outdoors shop already in NoMa, and the nearby Park City Frame & Gallery fit with Jordan’s plans. But he wants other types of retailers, saying the district cannot compete if it offers exclusively local stores.
One-third of the stores, he said, should be only-in-Park City businesses and the rest he wants to be of national or international renown, speaking about designers like Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein.
"It doesn’t really have the name sizzle or clout necessary to draw shoppers in," Jordan said about the local shops.
The new retailers, NoMa’s consultants project, would generate $100 million in sales, adding an approximately $2.6 million in taxes to City Hall coffers, not counting the property taxes that would be collected.
Another attraction, critical in a ski resort, is a lift Jordan plans from the abandoned Anderson Lumber yard off Kearns Boulevard, which he controls and plans to invest $50 million in, to Park City Mountain Resort. Its western terminal would be at the resort’s First Time lift and Jordan wants to build the lift as early as next April.
Jordan said three parking garages totaling between 1,500 and 1,600 spaces are needed in NoMa, five times the number of spots in the new garage on Swede Alley, and he prefers that the private and public sectors team to build the spaces. A bus hub similar in function to the Old Town transit center is necessary as well, he said.
A few hundred condominiums, lofts and flats are desired in NoMa, some in space above the retailers.
The district wants City Hall to earmark substantial money for upgrades like a roundabout on Bonanza Drive, where many people say the traffic is terrible, and a tunnel for the Rail Trail underneath the roadway.
But a longtime property owner within what have been defined as the NoMa boundaries remains skeptical of the plans. Mary Wintzer, whose Wintzer-Wolfe Properties owns 21 buildings, with tenants like a Laundromat and an automotive shop, doubts that NoMa can support the number of boutiques that Jordan wants opened and said she is concerned about the district pulling business from Main Street.
She said does not consider her properties being in NoMa and said just four out of 20 of her tenants joined Jordan’s group. Wintzer worries that, with the Jordan-led revival, rents will push higher, pricing some of her tenants out of the district.
"Main Street should be the real drawing card for Park City. That’s where we have a chance to be unique," Wintzer said.
Jim Hier, a Park City Councilman, sees the potential developments as being more a draw for Parkites than tourists. Hier, who listened with Mayor Dana Williams and the rest of the City Council to a lengthy presentation by Jordan recently, said the redevelopment of the neighborhood is not critical to Park City’s future.
"Since I’ve been here, we’ve had ‘Next Great Places’ every three months," Hier said.
He predicts that NoMa, if the projects are realized, would remain the No. 2 shopping district in Park City, behind Main Street.
On Main Street, Ken Davis, who leads the merchants, does not see NoMa as the street’s prime competitor. Redstone at Kimball Junction, about six miles away, is more threatening, Davis says.
"What they have there now is more service oriented a cleaners, a FedEx place to send packages, a haircut place," Davis said, describing NoMa as a destination for Parkites seeking everyday services, not for tourists. "The type of shopping, if it’s anything like what else is there, is more support and not in direct competition with Main Street."
At Redstone, meanwhile, Karen Dallett, who owns the Spotted Frog Bookstore, does not expect that the revamped NoMa will threaten business there. She said Redstone attracts lots of shoppers from Jeremy Ranch and Silver Summit, Snyderville Basin neighborhoods closer to Kimball Junction than NoMa. Jordan’s customers, she predicts, will come from Old Town, Park Meadows and Park City’s visitors staying at nice hotels.
"I don’t panic over new developments at all," she said.
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