Park City event space approved amid noise concerns in Old Town |

Park City event space approved amid noise concerns in Old Town

The vote is critical to success of redevelopment of ex-art center space

The team redeveloping the former Kimball Art Center property in Old Town on Wednesday night secured a permit from a City Hall panel allowing an event space to operate at the site, something that was critical to the business plan of project.

The Park City Planning Commission approved the event space on a unanimous vote, but the meeting highlighted the longtime tension between Main Street and people who live in surrounding Old Town. There have been concerns for years among residents of Old Town streets just off of Main Street about noise, parking issues and other inconveniences that come from living so close to the shopping, dining and entertainment strip.

The developer, a firm under the umbrella of California-based Columbus Pacific Properties, has started the early stages of an ambitious redo of the historic property. City Hall earlier approved the redevelopment, but another permit was required for the event space. The permit essentially allows outdoor events to be held at the site. It also allows event organizers to build temporary tents on a terrace that is planned on the roof.

A City Hall report prepared in anticipation of the Planning Commission meeting indicated 480 people will be allowed in the event space at any one time, fewer than attended some events hosted by the Kimball Art Center when it was housed in the property. The report, though, says more events are expected once the property is redeveloped.

The property is located at the corner of Main Street and Heber Avenue and extends to Park Avenue. The Park Avenue side is situated close to surrounding neighborhood streets like the largely residential upper stretch of Park Avenue, Woodside Avenue and Norfolk Avenue. Some people who live on those streets have long expressed concerns that the hubbub of Main Street spills into the neighborhood. They have said music and background noise from Main Street emanates through the neighborhood, people headed to Main Street events park on streets that are supposed to be restricted to residents and late-night revelers make their way onto the residential blocks.

The Planning Commission took testimony from several people who live nearby, listening to concerns about the impact of an event center on the neighborhood. It was one of the first times the worries about the event center were exclusively highlighted since earlier meetings about the site typically focused on the redevelopment itself.

Sanford Melville, who lives on Park Avenue close to the site, told the panel he is concerned with the traffic an event center is expected to attract and said there are concerns about parking as well. He inquired how many complaints City Hall needs to field about the events before action is taken, asking whom he should call in the late-night hours.

“Private events should be held inside,” Melville said.

Another speaker, Woodside Avenue resident John Stafsholt argued the sound from an event center will be heard on the residential streets.

Mike Sweeney, a Main Street businessman whose family owns the Town Lift Plaza, though, told the Planning Commission an event space could operate at the cite without problems. He noted the Sweeney family holds special events at the Town Lift Plaza, which, like the former Kimball Art Center space, is located close to the Old Town neighborhood.

Planning Commissioners discussed topics like the uniqueness of the site since it is so close to the neighborhood and that it is difficult to predict the impacts of the event space. The Planning Commission restricted the use of outdoor speakers to the hours of 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. and placed restrictions on the design of outdoor tents that will be used during events.

The permit was another important step in the years of talks about the future of the high-profile site along Main Street. The Kimball Art Center itself wanted to redevelop the site but was unable to secure a City Hall approval for a design, leading the not-for-profit to sell the property to the developer. Columbus Pacific Properties encountered difficulty as well, eventually opting for a project that will involve commercial spaces and the event space. The developer sees the event space as ensuring the financial soundness of the overall project.

In an interview after the vote, Tony Tyler, the developer and a partner in the project, said there is significant demand for event space and efforts were made in the design to acknowledge the concerns in the neighborhood. Tyler said major work is expected to begin in early January.

“I’m investing a lot of money in the project. Without the event space, we don’t think the project is as successful,” he said.

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