Summit County officials laud Olympic View transit proposals at Tech Center site but express doubt at their feasibility
One of the most intriguing aspects of the ambitious Olympic View development proposal for Kimball Junction is how it would affect transportation in the already-congested S.R. 224 corridor.
The application included renderings that showed gondolas soaring over tree-lined shopping plazas, a pedestrian bridge over S.R. 224 and an underground transit center and bus rapid transit depot.
The Snyderville Basin Planning Commission heard some details about the transportation plan at its meeting Tuesday, and developers portrayed their proposal as playing an integral role in transformative changes to come in the S.R. 224 corridor.
But the extent to which those changes could happen remains unclear, as they would rely on a massive coordination effort and funding from other state, regional and possibly federal partners.
Jim Charlier, a traffic planner hired by the developers, Dakota Pacific, told the commissioners the developers long ago settled on the strategy of sharing an “aspirational plan” to show what could be done, rather than strictly what they could provide.
“We’re swinging for the fences,” he said. “A lot of other players are going to have to come to the table here.”
He added that the development’s proposed location, near the Skullcandy headquarters west of S.R. 224, provides the perfect location for a transit center.
“This is an important idea; I don’t know where else you can do it,” he said. “We’re pretty excited this makes sense at this location.”
Planning commissioners indicated their support of the general idea, especially with the need to do something about the failing intersections near Kimball Junction, but expressed skepticism about how it would get done.
Commissioner Canice Harte pointed out that, according to the general plan, any approval of increased density in the Snyderville Basin requires an offsetting “countervailing public interest.” While it appears these transportation amenities would be aimed at benefiting the public, the developer has been open in saying it wouldn’t finance them on its own.
“I don’t know where in this process we get to the real plan,” Harte said.
The vision outlined by the developers would have underground ramps coming from S.R. 224 for bus traffic to enter the transit center, which would be dug into the hill near where the county’s Sheldon Richins Building currently sits.
That would catalyze a bus rapid transit system that has long been contemplated by regional officials. A 2018 study envisions one node of that system at Kimball Junction and another at Park City’s planned arts and culture district in Bonanza Park.
The new transit center could also be the site of an underground park-and-ride facility.
Responding to a question form Harte about what the developers would be able to get done on their own, Dakota Pacific president of development services Jeff Gochnour said they would follow through on their obligation to pay for the number of parking spaces required by the code for their proposed office buildings.
In the aspirational presentation, though, that parking obligation could be integrated into the much larger transit center, envisioned as extending three stories underground. That would in essence leverage the developers’ cash to help finance a larger project.
Without matching funding from other stakeholders, Gochnour said the developers would likely build a more conventional, smaller parking structure. And the consensus between the elected officials and developers seemed to be that retrofitting such a structure at some point in the future to fit larger transit goals would be highly unlikely.
The site is currently entitled for about 1.3 million square feet of development limited to certain uses centered around the tech industry. The Olympic View developers are asking to renegotiate a 2008 development agreement to allow 2 million square feet of development, 1,135 residential units, commercial space, retail, offices and possibly hotels.
They estimate about 2,500 full-time residents would live there and have said the residential component would be rental units, addressing a dire need in the county. Furthermore, the developers have an extensive history in affordable housing developments in the Salt Lake Valley, another aspect county officials are expected to push for.
Charlier said that the group wanted to show planning commissioners what was possible, and that with Utah possibly bidding for another Olympics, having a plan in place for potential federal funding could prove key.
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