Sundance venue in old Park City Blockbuster building approved
The Sundance Film Festival recently secured an approval from the Park City Council to use abandoned retail space for a new venue during the January event as well as a merchandise store at other times of the year.
The City Council at the recent meeting voted 4-0 with City Councilor Lynn Ware Peek absent to approve the venue, which will be located in vacant space at 950 Iron Horse Drive. It is the former location of a Blockbuster video store and a fitness gym.
Sundance intends to relocate some of the festival’s New Frontier programming in the building, shifting that part of Sundance from the Kimball Art Center. There will not be a screening room at 950 Iron Horse Drive. Sundance says the Kimball Art Center will be used to host festival panel discussions and other events. The Claim Jumper building on Main Street is not available to Sundance organizers in 2019, prompting some of the shuffling.
The plans to open a merchandise store in the building are notable in addition to the debut of a new festival venue. Park City officials are sensitive to abandoned retail spaces, and the prospects of a Sundance–run store opening at 950 Iron Horse Drive was praised at the meeting.
The City Council did not spend extensive time discussing the new venue prior to the vote. City Councilor Steve Joyce thanked Sundance for considering the community’s desire to reduce the number of so-called dark storefronts. He said, though, nearby Homestake Road is dangerous for pedestrians. Joyce worried about people “wandering in the street” as they head between Sundance venues.
Betsy Wallace, who is the chief financial officer and managing director of Sundance, meanwhile, told the elected officials the venue at 950 Iron Horse Drive is a step toward preparing for an arts and cultural district that is planned on nearby Kearns Boulevard. The Sundance Institute’s Utah headquarters are expected to be one of the district’s anchor tenants.
The venue at 950 Iron Horse Drive will be added to an important corridor for Sundance along Kearns Boulevard. There are important Sundance locations on or close to the road, including the Eccles Center, festival headquarters and the screening rooms at Holiday Village Cinemas.
A critic of a Park City workforce or otherwise affordable housing project in Old Town said he is considering an appeal of the Park City Planning Commission’s approval of the development.