Woodside Park open house draws families, workers seeking affordable housing
Ross Waghorn teaches eighth- and ninth-grade English at Treasure Mountain Junior High, and like many who work in Park City, he commutes in from Salt Lake City. And like many, he’d like to change that.
Which is why Ross and his wife, Kayla Waghorn, brought their young daughter to a Wednesday open house for Park City’s newly completed Woodside Park Phase I housing project in the 1300 blocks of Park and Woodside avenues. They were just three of dozens of prospective buyers of the workforce or otherwise restricted development’s eight units — four houses and four townhouses. The Waghorns made their way through each unit and around the freshly manicured common area between them, all the while wondering if this could be their chance to move to Park City and be, as they put it, a real part of the community.
“Living here is the dream,” Kayla Waghorn said.
Ross Waghorn agreed.
“Most of my colleagues live here, and we love the idea of Park City, particularly the community aspect,” he said. “Of course most of what Park City has to offer is completely unattainable to us, so affordable housing kind of presents us with a way to get our foot in the door.”
Kayla Waghorn said they see living in Park City as “the real start of our lives here in Utah.”
“With Ross being a teacher in the Park City School District, we want our daughter to go to school here and to be near her friends, too,” she said.
That was a sentiment shared by Claustina Mahon-Reynolds, another school district employee with a young daughter who attends school in Park City thanks to her mother’s employment.
“We commute up from Murray, and it’s fine since we’re right by (Interstate 215), but you know, it would be better to be up here,” she said. “Then she could be in the community with her friends.
“Do we do playdates? Yes. But how much more convenient would it be, right, if we were only 10 minutes away from her friends?”
Each of the townhouses has an attached studio unit, and Park City Mayor Andy Beerman said at the open house he hopes buyers rent them out, creating four more opportunities for people who want to live in town. But the focus of the development, evidenced by the number of young couples with small children touring the open house, is families.
“We like the fact that it fortifies the neighborhood,” Beerman said. “This is one of the few areas in Old Town that still has young families, and kids, and it’s vibrant. We were worried it was going to turn into nightly rentals, so this was one of the first places we wanted to start. We wanted to keep the community intact.”
That is not to say the development isn’t also drawing interest from Park City’s workforce. Annie Soutter, a transportation dispatcher at Montage Deer Valley, relocated from South Carolina in January, and since then she’s been on the hunt for long-term housing. She said she likes what she saw from the Woodside Park development and, further, appreciates what it represents.
“I’m hunting for a house now, and I definitely qualify for these,” she said. “I mean, to think there’s an opportunity for someone like me to actually live in an area like this, and to buy, not rent. It’s inspiring that they came up with the funds to make this happen.”
City Hall has classified the units as either affordable or attainable under the housing program, with prices set at between $205,000 and $565,000. The two categories have different income restrictions. Units that are designated as affordable are available to households earning up to 80 percent of the area median income, while those designated as attainable are available to households earning up to 150 percent of the area median income.
The income caps are based on the size of a household, with, as an example, a single-person household capped at $61,488 per year for the affordable units and $115,290 annually for the attainable ones.
The project is part of City Hall’s aggressive housing program as leaders work toward a goal of adding 800 units of restricted housing deemed to be affordable or attainable by the end of 2026.
“Critics come out and say, ‘You’re trying to do 800 units, this is a drop in the bucket,’” Beerman said. “I challenge anybody to say that to the eight families who are going to be moving into these homes. It is going to make a huge difference in their lives, and it’s going to allow them to be lasting members of our community.”
Park City Housing Development Manager Jason Glidden said the city hopes to begin the application process for the units this fall, and anyone who wants to get on a mailing list for notifications about applying can do so by visiting parkcity.org and emailing the development team. He said the selection process will be weighted to give priority to long-time Park City residents, essential employees like police and firefighters, and finally, what City Hall is calling “community builders,” which includes teachers and nurses.
One of the eight units is being retained by the city, which Glidden said is being done to give officials time to decide what to do with it.
“One of the issues we face, like any business, is recruitment,” he said. “And housing can be a great recruiting tool. But retaining it doesn’t prevent the city from selling it at a later point.”
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The Park City Police Department last week and early this week received several reports of parties, a common complaint to the agency during busy times of the ski season. The cases did not appear to be serious, but they seem to show an uptick in activity in the community.