Plan for Main Street Plaza aims to boost business on upper end | ParkRecord.com

Plan for Main Street Plaza aims to boost business on upper end

Many stores feel neglected by events due to their location

A new plaza is part of the master plan for Main Street. Park City hopes to begin construction soon.

Park City's Main Street is iconic in the resort town. It sets the scene for the Sundance Film Festival in the winter and the Park Silly Sunday Markets in the summer, but not everyone ventures uphill to upper Main Street. With a new plaza set to be constructed, that might change.

The Main Street Plaza, otherwise known as the Brew Pub Plaza, has been in the city's plans since 2012, after merchants in the area told the city that the street needed serious renovations, said Jonathan Weidenhamer, the city's economic development manager. Park City updated sidewalks and street lights, but the centerpiece of the plan included a gathering space to drive people to upper Main Street. After completing three smaller plazas in Old Town, the Brew Pub Plaza was next on the list.

The plaza is set to be located where the current parking is between Swede Alley and Main Street, including the parking lot next to the Wasatch Brew Pub. It will include a public park that can hold events as well as an underground parking structure. The Park City Council just finished collecting feedback from area businesses and residents and is currently deciding the uses and rules of the space.

"It gives you an anchor at the top end of the street," Weidenhamer said.

Several businesses at the upper end of Main Street often feel left out of the action, he said, especially since the stores are at the top of a hill that tourists see as daunting and consequently avoid.

"We have definitely heard over the years that the grade of the street is hard and difficult, especially for people who aren't from (high) elevation and who aren't young and active," Weidenhamer said.

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Jeff Bernard, co-owner of The Eating Establishment, agreed. He is excited to have a venue that will attract visitors to businesses like his.

"Lower Main Street has always kind of had an advantage over the upper Main Street," he said. "There is nothing good clear up at the top."

Bernard, who also lives off Swede Alley, is happy to know that the current Brew Pub parking lot will be demolished. He said it is neglected and has been an eyesore since he moved to Old Town in 1989. He has been heavily involved in planning meetings both as a resident and business owner.

Judy Cullen, spokesperson for the Salt Lake Brewing Co., which operates Wasatch Brewery, added that the plaza will add some "much-needed activation" to the area.

"We think that the city is working very hard to find the right balance of keeping a public, park-like space for everyone to enjoy, but also adding the occasional event as deemed appropriate," she said. "It will also be a plus for our guests sitting on our outside patios, as they will be able to enjoy the ambiance as well."

Currently, the city is trying to decide what the uses for the park will be, but Michael Barille, executive director of the Historic Park City Alliance, said a multi-use space would be most beneficial to businesses.

"Pocket parks and park areas are great for relaxation and families as a place to kind of sit down and take a break for a minute," he said. "We hope that it will serve that purpose a good portion of the time. But we also think some programming there — to be a place that's interactive and that does encourage people to explore the full extent of the street — is important."

Plus, while businesses often notice increased activity during events like the Park Silly Market, restricting traffic and parking can have negative effects on businesses, especially those that are not as close to the actual event, Barille said. Moving events to the new public space may limit the amount of times the street is closed to vehicles.

During the construction of the plaza, which has not been scheduled yet by the city, businesses will have to deal with closed roads and loud noises, but Cullen and Bernard said it will be better in the long run.

"I think that that's going to be one of the best parts of Main Street when they're done," Bernard said. "Right now, it's one of the worst parts.