Park City staffers support disputed Old Town event space
City Hall wants elected officials to deny a closely watched appeal
City Hall on Monday issued a report supporting an earlier municipal approval of a permit allowing space for special events at the building that once housed the Kimball Art Center, arguing that the permit should be upheld as the Park City Council on Thursday hears a closely watched appeal.
Anya Grahn, the historic preservation planner for City Hall, drafted the report. It backs earlier stands by officials in favor of the event space at the site, located at 638 Park Ave. The property stands at one of the corners of the busy Main Street-Heber Avenue intersection and stretches to Park Avenue. It is close to residential streets like Park Avenue and Woodside Avenue, leading to the conflict about the event space.
Two individuals who live close by, Sanford Melville and John Stafsholt, and the Park City Historical Society filed the appeal against an approval granted by the Park City Planning Commission in December. The appeal cites a series of concerns about the impact of the event space on the neighborhood as well as the designs.
Disputes about designs in Old Town occur on a regular basis, but the sections of the appeal based on the impact on the neighborhood offer intriguing insight into the long-running tensions between residential Old Town streets and bustling Main Street. Some people who live on streets like Park Avenue and Woodside Avenue, just steps away from Main Street, have expressed concern for years that the revelry of the shopping, dining and entertainment strip creeps into the neighborhood.
The appeal claims the event space does not fit so close to a neighborhood. But the City Hall report recommending the appeal be denied provides a rundown of the reasons why the Planning Commission decision should be upheld. In an especially important section of the report, City Hall says the lower panel put a series of conditions on the approval meant to guard against impacts on the neighborhood. The report notes the Planning Commission capped capacity at 480 people and put time limits on the event space. The permit allows the event space to be used from 8 a.m. until midnight. Outdoor speakers are limited to the hours between 11 a.m. and 10 p.m., the report notes, saying the Planning Commission “shared the public’s concerns regarding noise.”
The report also addresses issues raised in the appeal regarding traffic, saying that the event space would not attract more vehicles than those that drove to the site when the Kimball Art Center operated there. It says the Kimball Art Center regularly held events, including an unspecified one in 2015 that drew 697 attendees.
“Many of the applicant’s anticipated events – meetings, cocktail receptions, weddings, etc. – will likely not meet the maximum occupancy load for the space of 480 occupants; however, others will. Guests and patrons using the Private Event Space will have to abide by the same parking and access restrictions as other visitors to Main Street and this development,” the report says.
The City Hall report was released shortly after the parties that filed the appeal submitted a more detailed argument against the event space. The more detailed argument, essentially a supporting document to the appeal itself, says the quality of life in the neighborhood will be sacrificed to benefit a business, the event space will lead to more residences being put into the rental pool and there was not a study of the traffic impacts of the event space.
The appeal is expected to be one of the last municipal actions regarding the redevelopment plans for the property. The Kimball Art Center initially wanted to build an expansion, but the designs encountered resistance at City Hall and in the wider community. The not-for-profit organization eventually sold the property to the developer and moved out of Old Town. The developer, under the corporate umbrella of a firm called Columbus Pacific Properties, also had difficulties as it wound its way through the City Hall approval process. The redevelopment of the property was approved earlier and work is underway. The appeal is centered on the event space rather than the overall redevelopment.
The City Council meeting starts at 6 p.m. at the Marsac Building. A public hearing is planned.
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Park City recently detailed the efforts to fill a range of vacant municipal posts in 2018 and 2019 as officials described the challenges City Hall has encountered in its hiring amid a hot economy.