Sundance eyes venue for New Frontier programming in Park City |

Sundance eyes venue for New Frontier programming in Park City

The Sundance Film Festival wants to open a new venue in an abandoned retail space on Iron Horse Drive. It is the former location of a Blockbuster video store and a fitness gym. Some of the festival’s New Frontier programming would be located in the building.
Jay Hamburger/Park Record

Sundance Film Festival organizers are negotiating an agreement to turn an abandoned retail space on Iron Horse Drive into a venue for some of the event’s cutting-edge programming, a move that would continue to solidify a festival presence outside jammed Main Street.

Sundance is negotiating a four-year agreement for space at 950 Iron Horse Drive, the former location of a Blockbuster video store and a fitness gym, according to a City Hall report drafted in anticipation of Park City Council meeting scheduled on Thursday.

The report indicates Sundance officials want to locate some of the festival’s New Frontier programming in the building on Iron Horse Drive. That section of the New Frontier was previously held at the Kimball Art Center. The report says the Kimball Art Center would be used for Sundance panel discussions and other events, moving them from the Claim Jumper building on Main Street. The Claim Jumper building is not available to Sundance organizers, the report says. A screening room would not be located in the new venue.

The location on Iron Horse Drive would continue a shift over time of the festival footprint from one that was heavily reliant on the Main Street core to one that stretches well off the shopping, dining and entertainment strip. Main Street is rollicking during Sundance with corporate interests taking many of the available temporary leases.

Sundance nonetheless retains a highly visible presence on Main Street with venues like the Music Café and the Egyptian Theatre screening room. Festival organizers, though, have sought locations elsewhere as space became more difficult to secure on Main Street itself.

The 950 Iron Horse Drive location would expand what has become a critical corridor for the festival along Kearns Boulevard between the Park Avenue intersection and the Park City School District campus. Festival venues on or just off the corridor include The Ray screening room, the Holiday Village Cinemas screening rooms, the Park Avenue Theatre, the Eccles Center and festival headquarters in Prospector.

Sundance could sublease the space at 950 Iron Horse Drive for six months of the year, something that would guard against the possibility that the location would be vacant for much of the year. The City Hall report indicates a Sundance merchandise store could open at the location, space could be shared with a Park City business or so-called pop-up stores could open in the space. Those scenarios would advance City Hall’s efforts to ensure activity in large retail spaces without year-round tenants.

Park City’s economic development manager, Jonathan Weidenhamer, recommends the City Council approve the venue at 950 Iron Horse Drive as part of an annual package of alterations to the Sundance operations. Weidenhamer said in an interview the location represents a “further consolidation” of Sundance venues. He noted the location is close to a planned arts and cultural district along Kearns Boulevard that is expected to house the Sundance Institute’s Utah headquarters as one of the anchor tenants.

“We’re creating a bit of a campus,” he said about the festival map.

The City Council is scheduled to hold a hearing and possibly vote on the new venue on Thursday. The meeting is slated to start at 6 p.m. at the Marsac Building.

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