Old Town house ‘salvageable’ after partial collapse
A house under construction in Old Town partially collapsed into an excavation underneath the structure on Friday, leaving it dramatically perched at an angle along a heavily traveled section of Park Avenue and immediately prompting a City Hall investigation into the situation.
The address is 923 Park Ave. The site is close to Main Street. The house remained at an angle on Tuesday morning. It was unclear how long it would remain in that position as Park City officials and the development team considered options to ensure the house is saved.
Bruce Erickson, the planning director at City Hall, said the project earlier secured approvals to build footings, a foundation and a basement. The house itself was put on wooden shoring while the work was ongoing. It is a common construction method in Old Town as historic houses are renovated and expanded.
Erickson said it was not known by early in the week what caused the house to partially collapse into the excavation. The Park City Building Department is investigating. Erickson said officials want the developers to return the house to the shoring or place it onto the finished section of the foundation promptly. He said City Hall hopes the house is put upright by the end of the week, pending the developers receiving the required permits.
"We want them to get that house on a foundation as quickly as they can," Erickson said.
He said officials hope the walls of the house do not need to be removed from the structure, stored and reattached later, a process known as panelization. He said City Hall anticipates the house is "salvageable" without the need for panelization.
The Park City Building Department issued a stop-work order at the site on Friday. The stop work order indicates a structural engineer must "identify methods to stabilize" the structure. It also says the contractor needed to secure the site by 6 p.m. on Friday. It indicates officials notified the contractor at 4 p.m. and a subcontractor at 4:17 p.m. The posting also says the Park City Building Department and the Park City Planning Department would be required to approve any demolition.
The construction site is protected by a chain link fence. Yellow police tape had been placed on the fence by midday Saturday. The police tape extended to a driveway of a house next door to the north. The partially collapsed structure was leaning toward the driveway. Onlookers on Saturday were stopping to take pictures. At least two Park City Planning Department staffers visited the site on Monday.
The house dates to approximately 1901. City Hall considers the house a significant site to Park City’s history, according to a municipal inventory of historic sites. A report prepared as part of the inventory indicates the structure is a "typical Park City mining era house," noting that it employed "simple methods of construction," a certain type of wood siding, a gabled front and a roof with a simple design.
"The physical elements of the site, in combination, convey a sense of life in a western mining town of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, though window changes diminish the historic character significantly," the report, dated in November of 2008, says.
An Orem firm known as EZ Executive Holdings LC owns the property, according to County Courthouse records. A person who answered a telephone call to the firm’s number declined to comment on Monday. Another person with the firm did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment.
The excavator, John Whiteley, was at the site on Monday. He is a veteran of numerous projects involving historic properties in Old Town. Whiteley said the contractor secured the house well with wood framing and new wood flooring. The house will eventually be attached to a crane, lifted from where it partially collapsed and then put back in place, Whiteley said.
"This house is 100 percent salvageable," Whiteley said, adding, "He fortified this building so well."
Two people indicated in interviews they are considering mounting campaigns for the Park City Council, a signal the City Hall election could attract an intriguing slate of candidates in a year when the majority of the five seats are on the ballot.