Preservation effort starts
David Belz’s real-estate holdings on Friday will include two mobile homes, but he does not plan to take them on a tour of national parks or other summertime vacation destinations and they normally are not on the move.
Crews working for Belz, a Park City developer, plan to launch an ambitious historic-preservation project on his land on the 800 blocks of Park Avenue and Woodside Avenue, known as Parkwood Place.
Two small historic houses and the decrepit Kimball Boardinghouse sit on the property and Belz plans to renovate the three older buildings as part of his overall Parkwood Place development.
But the buildings need to be temporarily removed to allow the construction workers to build a garage and complete the work necessary to put the older buildings back on the site.
On Friday, the crews intend to lift the two smaller houses with hydraulic jacks, put them on a flatbed trailer truck and, according to City Hall planner Ray Milliner, move them across Park Avenue to a parcel of land just north of the Town Lift.
Once they are taken off the site, the builders can put down foundations, dig basements and excavate a garage for Parkwood Place.
"I’m very proud and very happy where the project has ended up," Belz, who owns the property, says.
The Parkwood Place marketers are advertising the Friday event as "the up-lifting,’ of the historic houses and are celebrating the event at the bottom of the nearby Town Lift from 4 p.m. until 5:30 p.m. Friday with champagne.
The catered event on Friday will mark a substantial milestone in Belz’s efforts to build Parkwood Place, where houses are priced at between $3.9 million and $5.8 million, according to marketing material. Four of the houses will front Woodside Avenue and four will face Park Avenue. The project sits next to Park City Mountain Resort’s Town lift ski run and the Town Bridge.
Belz purchased the property in 1990 and since then has considered options for what became Parkwood Place. The boardinghouse, which is treasured by Park City history lovers but fell into disrepair, complicated the planning.
In late 2004, City Hall issued a permit allowing Belz to demolish the boardinghouse. That decision reversed one made by the government a decade before, which barred the demolition.
After the 2004 decision, Belz’s team indicated that the project would only be financially viable if the boardinghouse was demolished but talks about keeping the building intact were then launched, resulting in a plan that did not envision tearing the boardinghouse down.
Under the current plans, Belz says he will spend at least $750,000 to restore the boardinghouse and turn it into a single-family home. The boardinghouse will be dismantled, a new foundation will be poured and a new frame built.
The crews will then attach the boardinghouse’s walls onto the new frame, a process known as ‘panelizing.’
"You’re going to feel the history throughout the structure," Belz says of the boardinghouse.
Such historic renovations are frequent in Park City. David Perkins, who intends to turn the historic National Garage into a whiskey distillery, plans to refurbish the garage, located nearby the boardinghouse, through a similar procedure.
Park City for years has tried to maintain its historic, mining-town feel even as the resort industry boomed and developers built scores of houses and condominiums in Old Town. The preservation boosters say that Old Town’s historic houses separate Park City from many other mountain resorts in the West.
Preservationists were incensed with Belz’s original plans to tear down the boardinghouse.
Belz says he continues to develop a timeline for the boardinghouse rehabilitation as the plans are formalized but expects that the building will be taken apart by mid-July at the latest.
Belz expects that the three historic buildings that will be removed from the site will be returned by the winter. He wants to complete the construction of the three as early as March and no later than June. Belz predicts that the new houses could be complete as early as April 2008.
Park City developers, spurred by a bull real-estate market, are often willing to spend significant sums of money on renovating historic houses, some of them dating to the late 1800s or early 1900s. They then frequently put the redone houses on the market.
Old Town has been one of Park City’s hottest neighborhoods for real estate, making the expensive renovations viable.
"The key will be how well they maintain and preserve those historic buildings," Milliner, the planner, says.
Sandra Morrison, the director of the Park City Historical Society, who in 2004 argued against demolishing the boardinghouse, says that she has not been briefed on Belz’s plans.
The boardinghouse was built sometime before 1889 and was damaged during an 1898 fire that leveled much of Park City. Morrison has said that two Park City mayors owned the boardinghouse over its history and she has described it as "the oldest boardinghouse hotel in Park City."
The Building Department is reviewing Belz’s construction plans and Ron Ivie, City Hall’s chief building official, says he expects that the department will decide whether to grant the permits soon, likely this week.
Ivie describes the Parkwood Place parcel as similar to other building sites in the city, saying that a deep excavation is needed that will remove "quite a bit of dirt."
"There will be a fair amount of trucks," he says, estimating that construction will last a year. "There’s quite a bit to be done there."
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