Qualms at Quarry Village put center in a quandary
When Christine Roberts moved to Park City she had thoughts, if the opportunity was right, about opening her own business.
After being turned away from Redstone Shopping Center because of a non-compete clause held by a similar store already in the shopping center, she heard about Quarry Village.
It had the atmosphere she wanted, a convenient location and hers would be the only furniture store there. But, since opening Christine’s Homestore in 2004, she said her experience at Quarry Village has been less than ideal.
"It seemed like the right atmosphere I was looking for with a smaller center focused on the locals and not the tourists," Roberts said. "The drawings were very attractive, and it turned out that way, but a lot of the promises made when I moved in weren’t kept."
Roberts says the owners of the center, Santa Fe Partners, made promises when she signed her lease, such as the quick development of the center, other retailers to help attract shoppers and marketing to let people know the center is open.
"My main concerns are that they promised a shopping center and we don’t have a shopping center," she said. "I’m still the only retail business here. This place, from the frontage road and the freeway, doesn’t even look open. We don’t have a marquee sign like the Redstone Arch. No one even knows what Quarry Village is; no one’s even heard of it."
Quarry Village is located near the Jeremy Ranch exit of Interstate 80.
Roberts said although the majority of the advertising burden falls on individual business owners, the owners of the shopping center have a responsibility to publicize the development and to let customers know what’s open.
"I think every business has a business owner to advertise, but one of the reasons for going into a shopping center, and paying the higher rent that comes along with that, is that you’re expecting the owners to market the center," she said. "We expect foot traffic and we expected tenants, and we don’t have either."
One of the problems, recognized by Santa Fe Partners and business owners alike, are the restrictions Summit County imposes on signs. Although many business owners, including Roberts, recognize the origin of the problem, they don’t feel enough is being done by Santa Fe Partners to advertise.
"I realize that much of the signage problems are with the county, but I feel the landlord has a responsibility to pursue a change with that," Roberts said. "It’s also a responsibility of theirs to get the shopping center a landmark sign. We have open shops here and no one knows it. I’ve suggested, several times, getting a large red banner and writing ‘Now Open’ on it to put over the sign that says ‘Now Leasing.’"
She said one business, Yoga Quarry, already had to close and that others will be forced to do the same unless things pick up.
"We all lived up to our part of the bargain by bringing in nice, upscale businesses and they didn’t live up to their part of the bargain as the landlords," Roberts said. "They’re making us pay for their mismanagement of the shopping center and it isn’t fair. Many of the business owners here have their entire life savings into their business and you’d expect more compassion and understanding from landlords, especially when you’re pioneering a new shopping center."
Neil Blosch, owner of Sahara Sun at Quarry Village, said he has a problem with the pace of development in the area. He said many of the businesses struggle because there aren’t enough stores to attract the amount of customers needed.
"We were marketed as a shopping center, not a construction site," he said. "What we were handed at signup was a really nice brochure that said the area would soon include a bank and a center building that would house a hip club/restaurant that would bring in a lot of traffic, and that building isn’t even built yet. It’s been two years now."
Blosch said there has not been any new development on the original project since early 2005.
"They gave a lot of us reduced rent because they realized they’d be building for at least a year and half, and we went through some growing pains because of that, but then they stopped building," he said.
Bruce Shannon, CEO of Santa Fe Partners, said the developer is currently in the planning and county-approval stages to build on another 45,000 square feet of store space to supplement the existing buildings. He said he hopes to have construction underway by the spring or early summer and how quickly it happens depends on when plans are approved by the county.
In response to complaints by business owners that the construction timeline is too slow, he said that he recognizes the difficulty of owning a private business, but that the business owners are blaming their own problems on others.
"It’s their fear of failure," he said. "We have three restaurants and we’re getting Café Sabor, so that makes four. We had a lease with a bank, but the bank president backed out. We already have another bank that wants to come in. I think people are just coming up with excuses."
Shannon said one problem slowing construction is the ability to find tenants desired by the shopping center. Although he said he has several businesses waiting for the new buildings to be finished, he said they have not always been easy to find.
"We’ve had inquiries from banks and we’ve had inquiries from a jazz club, but we don’t have any leases or anything set," he said. "People come to us because they want to put things in there, but there are restrictions on what is proper use of the space. We don’t want a tattoo parlor or anything. We have to tailor the use to the people who live and shop there."
He also voiced frustration about sign regulations the county imposes.
"That problem is the county’s doing," he said. "They have regulations and statutes on signage and we’re only allowed to put up the signage we’re allowed to. I have to follow their rules. I think the county is doing itself a disservice by being so conservative in what they allow as far as signage. Albertsons looks like a warehouse because they’re only allowed to have the one ‘A’ on their building. It’s embarrassing."
In response to business owners who say they were made to believe the signs would come, Shannon said, "We give them the signage ordinance in every lease so they’re aware. We’re not trying to hoodwink anybody. If they’re trying to say they didn’t know then, they just didn’t do their homework."
One of the problems, he said, comes when business owners have false expectations because they compare the center to Redstone.
"There are two different types of centers," he said. "To the layman, they’re all shops and retail, but they are really two different concepts."
The Redstone concept is a regional/national center in which larger chain stores, such as Bed, Bath & Beyond serve as anchors. The Quarry Village concept is a neighborhood center, which are generally closer to housing and have smaller, more service-oriented stores.
As far as businesses having to close, he said when businesses fail they tend to blame others even when it’s the business owner’s fault.
"As far as I know, Yoga Quarry just went out of business," Shannon said. "Sometimes when people go out of business they find other things to blame it on."
The shopping center opened in late 2004, when the Quarry Village Albertsons opened, along with several businesses already in place.
"The buildings that you see, that are built now, make up phase two, and take up about 69,254 square feet that are in addition to the Albertsons store," Shannon said. "But there is more to come."
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