Planning panel hears split testimony on Park City housing project
A City Hall panel on Wednesday night reviewed the municipal government’s blueprints for a workforce or otherwise restricted housing development in Old Town, receiving a small amount of split testimony at an early point in the talks about a project that is proposed for a tightly packed part of the community.
Park City intends to build a second phase of the Woodside Park development. It would stretch across the 1300 blocks of Empire Avenue, Norfolk Avenue and Woodside Avenue.
It is expected to be one of City Hall’s largest housing developments. The plans call for 58 units of housing. Of the total, 52 of the units would be priced at levels determined to be affordable or attainable, and buyers will be required to qualify through their income levels. City Hall will eventually set prices and income ceilings based on the area median income. The other six units will be sold at market prices, allowing City Hall to put the revenues back into the housing program. The market rates that will be attached to the six units will, essentially, reduce the amount of City Hall subsidy required for the overall project.
The Park City Planning Commission on Wednesday held its first meeting about the second phase of Woodside Park. The meeting was cordial and the Planning Commission did not appear to have significant issues with the project. The Planning Commissioners at later meetings will delve into the details. It seems likely the panel at the upcoming meetings will dwell on standard issues in Old Town development debates, such as the traffic a project will generate and the overall designs of a project.
The project team on Wednesday provided an overview, discussing environmental highlights like plans to generate electricity through solar power and the desire that the designs flow with the rhythm of the streetscape as well as the scale of other buildings on Woodside Avenue and Empire Avenue.
Laura Suesser, a member of the Planning Commission, at the meeting on Wednesday indicated she is concerned about pedestrians crossing Empire Avenue as they head toward Park City Mountain Resort. Douglas Thimm, another member of the Planning Commission, noted the project is proposed in the core of Park City.
“It’s at a location where they’re needed,” Thimm said.
The Planning Commission indicated it intends to return to the discussions about the second phase of Woodside Park at a meeting scheduled on April 24.
The Planning Commission received a little more than 10 minutes of testimony on Wednesday, likely providing a preview of the topics that will be broached as the discussions continue.
One of the speakers, Doug Lee, a Connecticut resident whose parents own a residence on the 1300 block of Empire Avenue, said City Hall wants to shoehorn too much development onto the land, contending Empire Avenue traffic presents dangers to pedestrians.
Another speaker, Michael Barille, who is the executive director of the Historic Park City Alliance and has a background in planning and design, explained a decade ago his firm considered development concepts for the same land. The development numbers proposed by City Hall fall into the “low to middle end” of the ideas crafted by his firm earlier. He said the municipal proposal involves a reasonable number of units. He said the Historic Park City Alliance, which represents the interests of businesses in the Main Street core, supports the idea of additional residences in Old Town.
Barille, meanwhile, said a walkway within the project should be open to the public. That, he said, would provide connections to the surrounding Old Town neighborhood and possibly PCMR.
The project is seen as a crucial one as Mayor Andy Beerman and the City Council continue to press the housing efforts. The leaders have a goal of adding 800 units of housing deemed to be affordable or attainable by the end of 2026. Public projects and those the private sector are obligated to build will be counted toward the 800-unit goal.
Workforce or otherwise affordable housing has long perplexed City Hall leaders, who have pursued housing for decades with varying degrees of success. Leaders over the years have seen the projects and other housing programs as critical in Park City’s resort-driven real estate market, the most expensive in the state. The backers say the housing reduces commuter traffic and adds socioeconomic diversity to Park City. Critics have questioned whether projects fit well with surrounding neighborhoods and whether the developments are too dense.
The first phase of Woodside Park is under construction between Park Avenue and Woodside Avenue on the 1300 blocks of the streets. The first phase — four houses and four townhouses, with the townhouses each having an attached rental unit — is less ambitious than the designs for the second phase.
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The Park City Police Department has stepped up its efforts to protect pedestrians after several accidents involving drivers and people walking along a road or crossing one.