Park City seeks ‘bold commitment’ to housing options |

Park City seeks ‘bold commitment’ to housing options

Might a member of the work force of Park City have a place at this address someday?

Or could it be at that address instead?

Park City leaders this week are scheduled to hold a broad discussion about housing, a topic that has perplexed City Hall for decades. Mayor Jack Thomas and the Park City Council are prepared to address housing as part of a three-day retreat that opens on Wednesday. The housing discussion is expected to be one of the critical talks during the three days.

It seems the mayor and City Council are readying for major movement of some sort on housing, probably this year. The details, though, are not known. The elected officials have indicated that housing is among the most important issues City Hall will address in 2015. The retreat agenda indicates the discussion will explore a five-year program for housing.

A City Hall report drafted in anticipation of the discussion covers numerous topics related to housing, including efforts that have already been undertaken and the demographics of Park City.

The report says officials in 2010 determined they wanted 10 percent of the residences inside Park City to be set aside as work force or affordable housing of some sort. The current figure is 5.3 percent, the report says. By 2020, City Hall staffers want the figure to rise to 7 percent, it says, noting that doing so would involve another 184 units.

Over the five-year period, City Hall outlines a program to reach the 184 units. The report says 79 will be added in the Park City Heights development under construction at Quinn’s Junction. Another 25 units could be built along the lower Park Avenue corridor, where officials are considering a project on a patchwork of City Hall -owned properties. The other 80 units would be built in places yet to be determined.

"The challenge of providing affordable housing in Park City is an unintended consequence of our success and the choices we made along the way to increase our desirability," City Hall staffers said in the report.

In an interview, Phyllis Robinson, who is the public affairs manager at City Hall and has a background in housing issues, said staffers hope for a "bold commitment" from the elected officials.

The lower Park Avenue corridor, it seems, will be especially notable in coming months. Robinson said City Hall intends to discuss the opportunities for the corridor with Parkites in the spring. The municipal government owns four properties along the corridor that are seen as important to an overall housing project. They include the senior center on Woodside Avenue, the land where a fire station once was located on Park Avenue, land on the 1300 block of Woodside Avenue and land on the 1400 block of Park Avenue.

There is only vague information about the 80 units projected to be put in locations yet to be determined. Robinson said City Hall could someday acquire land for housing projects, but she did not identify parcels. Perhaps, she said, officials could consider partnering with interested private sector developers to add affordable or work force housing to their projects.

"It’s just kind of looking more creatively," she said.

The report, meanwhile, outlines a timeline through the spring of 2016 for work on housing. A community event could launch the efforts in the spring, talks and work centered on the lower Park Avenue corridor could stretch from this spring until the spring of 2016 and parameters for property acquisitions could be set this spring, according to the report.

Housing issues have proven difficult over the decades as officials attempted to provide options for people priced out of Park City’s resort-driven real estate market, the most expensive in the state. City Hall leaders have long seen themselves as champions of housing issues.

Leaders argue that Park City will be better off if people of varying incomes can afford to live inside the city. They have said over the years work force or otherwise affordable housing leads to economic diversity in Park City and reduces commuter traffic since people are able to live close to where they work, among other benefits.

The retreat is scheduled at the Christian Center of Park City, 1283 Deer Valley Drive. The discussion about housing is expected to start at approximately 11 a.m. on Thursday and last approximately one hour. The discussion and the retreat sessions on Thursday and Friday are open to the public.

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