Steps from PCMR, housing for the work force under construction | ParkRecord.com

Steps from PCMR, housing for the work force under construction

by Jay Hamburger THE PARK RECORD

A Park City developer could welcome the work force to the community as the ski season begins later this year.

A housing project that will carry restrictions limiting how much money someone can earn to be eligible for a unit has quietly been progressing close to Park City Mountain Resort. The project is situated at 1440 Empire Ave., a location that provides easy access to the resort and Old Town.

Mark J. Fischer, the lead developer in Bonanza Park, is overseeing the project. The developer plans to manage the property as well.

The three-story project involves 12 units, each of them a two-bedroom apartment designed to house four people. They will be fully furnished and range in size from 541 square feet to 767 square feet. One underground parking spot comes with each of the units. The units will be within a single building.

The developer broke ground in May and hopes to finish the project in early December. Tenants could move in at that point, Fischer said.

It is rare that a project in Park City exclusively involves some sort of work force housing, particularly in a location that many would see as attractive given the proximity to PCMR. In many other cases, there is a limited number of work force units within a development while the rest are built off site.

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Fischer said the rental-application process has not been finalized. The developer is not accepting applications yet. He said details, including rent prices, will be publicized by the end of October. He anticipates leases will run for a minimum of one year. Fischer said the project will be attractive to young professionals working in the hospitality and resort industries.

Fischer and his business partner have acquired a patchwork of properties in Bonanza Park and plan a major redevelopment. The land at 1440 Empire Ave. is not seen as being within the traditional borders of Bonanza Park, though. The parcel is situated in a part of Park City where there are numerous residences in the nightly rental pool as a result of the proximity to PCMR. There are also full-time residences and vacation homes in the neighborhood. The location is close to several bus stops.

Fischer said the business partner, billionaire John Paul DeJoria, has owned the parcel on Empire Avenue since the early 1990s. The developers determined the location provided an opportunity to build work force housing.

Fischer is moving forward using an unusual timeline. He has not launched what is anticipated to be a major redevelopment of key parcels in Bonanza Park and it is unknown when those projects will commence. Developers typically wait for projects to start construction before building the required work force housing.

In the case of the project at 1440 Empire Ave., the Bonanza Park developer will put up the work force housing prior to working on other parcels that promise more lucrative returns.

"We’re building our work force housing requirement for Bonanza Park in advance of the actual need," he said, adding that doing so is unique in Park City. "I don’t think you’ve ever seen it."

Fischer said the 12 units at 1440 Empire Ave. are estimated to fulfill approximately 20 percent of the overall work force housing requirement of Bonanza Park. The approximately 20 percent figure is a projection, Fischer said, since the size of the overall Bonanza Park development is not yet clear.

City Hall does not provide any sort of development bonus if work force housing is built early and Fischer has not requested one, according to the municipal government’s housing specialist, Rhoda Stauffer. The municipal government’s website lists the project as one that is "currently in the works."

Elliott Workgroup, a Park City-based architectural firm, designed the project. The firm previously designed other work force developments in the city, including the Snow Creek Cottages, the Line Condominiums and the Rail Central building, which is one of the properties under Fischer’s control. Elliott Workgroup says the project will include environmentally friendly features such as solar panels on the roof and well-insulated construction.

"It’s just the way we like to do business. We like to set a good example," Fischer said, adding, "I think it’s really cool we’re out in front of it."