Park City development beset by air-rights question | ParkRecord.com

Park City development beset by air-rights question

There is concern about crane planned along Main Street

by Jay Hamburger
THE PARK RECORD

The redevelopment of the Old Town property that once housed the Kimball Art Center this week continued to prove challenging for City Hall as construction crews prepare to place a crane at the site, something that has spurred another round discussions within the municipal government about the bitterly contested location.

Work has started at the property, which is situated at one corner of the high-profile intersection of Main Street and Heber Avenue, but there is concern about a crane that will be required as the construction commences in earnest. City Hall this week touched on the need for the crane in a report about the project drafted in anticipation of a Park City Council meeting on Thursday. The elected officials addressed the issue on Thursday and indicated they wanted to further discuss the topic at a later meeting.

The report, written by the interim chief building official, Michelle Downard, outlines that a crane is planned to be placed on the Heber Avenue side of the property. It would be used to lift construction materials. Officials have not yet approved the placement of a crane, though. The crane's location would require pedestrians to be diverted around the base and force the closing of a section of sidewalk while the crane is operating.

It would be what is known as a stationary crane as opposed to one that is attached to a vehicle that could more easily be moved from one location to another. A stationary crane is "the least impactful, most efficient and safest circumstances," the report says.

Staffers spoke to Mayor Jack Thomas and the City Council at the Thursday meeting, outlining reasons for the crane that were similar to the arguments in the report. Downard told the elected officials the construction crews have a deadline of Nov. 21 to remove the crane, a date that is close to the traditional start of the ski season.

City Councilor Nann Worel noted the crane would be standing during the busy calendar of special events along Main Street in the summer. The mayor wondered whether the crane could be erected within the structure itself, reducing the impacts outside of the site. Thomas wanted the idea of positioning the crane within the structure further explored. Downard said any of the options would have impacts. Cindy Matsumoto, another member of the City Council, added that the period of time the crane would be at the location seemed lengthy.

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The discussion also dwelled air rights, which are needed since the crane will move over space that is not directly above the construction site. The developer will need to secure those rights from neighboring property owners as well as the municipal government, a City Hall attorney, Polly Samuels McLean, said. City Hall is waiting for the agreements to be finalized between the developer and the neighboring properties before the municipal government finishes one.

The City Council indicated that it wants to review the eventual agreement regarding air rights between City Hall and the developer. The elected officials also want to review an agreement that will be crafted allowing the construction crews to encroach on public property.

The developer, under the umbrella of a firm called Columbus Pacific Properties, did not address the elected officials and it was not clear whether a representative of the developer or the construction firm was present. A representative of the developer did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment.

The report also briefed the elected officials about a covered walkway designed to protect pedestrians and scaffolding.

The Main Street leadership is closely monitoring the project as it is expected to be a major construction site at a key location along the shopping, dining and entertainment strip. The intersection of Main Street and Heber Avenue is an important spot for drivers and pedestrians, and it serves as the bridge between the upper and lower sections of Main Street.

The Historic Park City Alliance, a group that represents businesses along Main Street and on nearby streets, wants the project impacts to be minimized, the executive director, Michael Barille, said in an interview. The group hopes for "as clean and well-presented site as possible," he said.

"It's tough. It is a big project," Barille said.

He stressed the importance of the location. Pedestrians might pass the construction zone two or three times during a visit to Main Street, he said. There is concern that the work may hurt lower Main Street businesses since pedestrians might not cross Heber Avenue as they are headed downhill, Barille said.

"You see construction as a true visual barrier," Barille said.

The developers have started an ambitious project at the property involving a redo of the historic building where the Kimball Art Center was once located and an addition on what is now a patio steps away from the intersection. The project entails commercial space. The developers want to operate event space at the location as well. Neighbors are challenging the concept.