Park City building continues to star as a historic site
Main Street hotel cannot be demolished as result of designation
November 22, 2016
A building on Main Street will continue to star as a historic site on the shopping, dining and entertainment strip.
A City Hall panel in early November opted to maintain the Star Hotel's designation as a significant building as part of an inventory of historic sites kept by the municipal government. The Historic Preservation Board, which holds some authority in Old Town development issues, cast a unanimous vote in favor of the designation.
Park City's influential preservation community sees the move as an important step as it attempts to ensure Main Street retains its historic charm, something that has long been a goal of preservationists and Park City leaders. They say the old buildings along Main Street, some dating to the late 19th century, are part of a historic fabric in Old Town that sets Park City apart from many other resort communities.
A building that is designated significant like the Star Hotel cannot be demolished. A significant designation is one of City Hall's powerful preservation tools, but moves by the municipal government or an owner regarding a designation are sometimes controversial since they involve the future of a historic building.
The owner of the Star Hotel, a Provo firm called Westlake Land, LLC, wanted to demolish the building and then redevelop the site, according to City Hall. The oldest parts of the building date to approximately 1885, the municipal government has said.
During the meeting in early November, a Westlake Land, LLC representative addressed the Historic Preservation Board, arguing the building should no longer be considered historic based on numerous changes over the decades. Todd Cusick described alterations to the front of the building and on the west side, noting those changes date to the Depression era. There were also changes to the front in the 1970s, he said. Cusick said the building was changed "so radically" over time.
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"What we have today is simply not historic," Cusick told the Historic Preservation Board.
But members of the Historic Preservation Board argued otherwise as they prepared to cast the vote to designate the Star Hotel a significant building. Lola Beatlebrox, a panel member, said the Star Hotel is "iconic" as she discussed some of its past.
"It was a boardinghouse practically in recent history as well," she said.
Puggy Holmgren, another member of the Historic Preservation Board, spoke in similar terms.
"The word is iconic . . . This building is part of our history," Holmgren said.
In an interview, Anya Grahn, City Hall's preservation planner, acknowledged there were changes to the front of the building in 1976. The alterations, though, were not major and did not modify the historic form of the building.
Westlake Land, LLC appealed the Historic Preservation Board's decision. The appeal will be put to City Hall's Board of Adjustment. A date is not set.
Developers in Old Town sometimes prefer tearing down historic buildings rather than redoing them. A major renovation of a historic building is seen as an expensive proposition and restricts a developer to existing structure. If City Hall allows a teardown, though, the developer has essentially an empty parcel for a new building design.
The Star Hotel in recent years fell into a state of disrepair and was the site of a tragic accident in 2013, when the owner at the time, Carol Rixey, died after falling through sheetrock from the attic to a second floor. Uptown Fare, a restaurant that was popular with Park City crowds, closed its Star Hotel space in 2015. It was a forced shutdown after the Park City Building Department determined the Star Hotel was unsafe for human occupancy. The Building Department described the decrepit conditions inside the Star Hotel at the time in what is known as a notice and order to make repairs. The notice and order remains in effect.
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