Teri Orr: ‘Do or do not. There is no try.’ Yoda.
Right now, with a renovation announcement from the folks who own the Holiday Inn hotel in town and who are connected to Vail with varying degrees of certain, we are given a moment to pause. Or at least think. (Okay, if you are new to town, you may only see the Doubletree sign, but that was a Holiday Inn and the tallest building here when I arrived in ’79.)
In the days when we had both flair and grace, Tina Lewis would lovingly decorate the giant two-story Christmas tree in the lobby. It was as if a piece of the City of Paris Tree in the rotunda at Union Square in San Francisco had been transplanted to Our Town.
There were no Steins or St. Regis or Washington School Inn or Goldener Hirsch hotels. There were just the two-plus stories of The Holiday Inn. Full-size Teddy bears and baby dolls would hang with bright colored glass balls from the Christmas tree branches.
The grand-mothered development plans allow the space to be redone into different lodging/living configurations. And we certainly need more spaces for real humans here to live.
I lost track of when the property became Vail’s, but I suspect it goes back to some deal in the ‘80’s/’90’s when the parking lots of both resorts were given approvals to develop into lodging and retail spaces and, possibly/finally, a decent ice rink. (The ice rink we have now- which is not enough for all the skaters we have- was part of the bond election that happened in the late 90s. I am uncertain when the then Yarrow became Vail’s (either by ownership or management agreement.)
The point is- there are precedents at play here and prior approvals. And we are only as good as our word and the law that binds us to it. So now that we know The Holiday Inn, aka the Doubletree, wants to become a Triple or Quadruple Tree, are we not obligated as a community( residents and developers alike) to find a way to make this work inside the lines while we advance our Park City community priorities?
I have an idea.
Take a giant eraser and erase the Holiday Inn. Yep. Wipe it out. Then keep going. Erase the shops next to Albertson’s market (call it what you want now, The Really, Really Fresh Market?) Keep going all the way down to the movie theaters. Then take a quick jump ( and don’t even think about touching The Blind Boneyard), but keep erasing.
Erase the power plant and city works buildings and all of Wintzerville, including the Storage Depot to Right at Home. The land in the middle of the evergrowing, blighted eyesore with the faux designation of the “Arts and Culture District,” which has neither permanent arts nor culture – nor community buy-in, would also be in play in this play.
Now, move the Holiday Inn/condo/hotel/housing project into the newly created “open space” where real people can live with enough room at reasonable costs. Add maybe a smart deli and a few services. And what do we do with the land at the intersection of state roads 248 and 224? We make it into – wait for it- a transportation hub—a place where buses would disgorge people and load them up again depending upon where folks were headed.
The idea of a gondola based there that sends folks to perhaps both Deer Valley AND Park City Mountain Resort starts to make more sense. A lot more sense.
Keep thinking bigger. Now head into Old Town and take “the city” out of City Hall ( formerly my children’s elementary school). We’ll find a new home for all those sorts of administrators -most of whom- commute from beyond Quinn’s and Kimball each day. And then ( I have actually mentioned this before) turn “The Marsac” into a home for visual arts.
And on the top layer of China Bridge parking? Make that more arts and culture and some truly affordable housing for the folks who work in service industries there.
Old Town becomes a deserved vibrant arts and culture hub. The arts district becomes synonymous with Old Town. And make Main Street car-free. If we are really serious about gridlock and walkability, that HAS to happen.
Now, what do we do with the shops back in Holiday Village behind the Holiday Inn (see where all these names came from)? Well, we turn that into spaces that legitimately, equitably and efficiently serve public transportation.
A few places to grab a snack. A place to buy lift tickets or arrange ski lessons or buy theater tickets to a live performance in town or a snowmobile adventure out in the county. There could be smart public art there. Juried and commissioned and vibrant and maybe interactive. It could re-create the beating heart of this town.
Is there a tunnel or bridge involved? Maybe. When you start to imagine a town full of fresh ideas, it can kinda open your mind to visions of limitless sugar plums’ worth of possibilities. But it will take Big Thinkers and no whiners and engaged folks from all sectors who see a Big Picture and want to draw themselves into it and help create a durable and sustainable frame.
We aren’t gonna get another chance at this. It is an opportunity that demands collaboration and creativity and, most of all, compromise. We have reached our own intersection of hope and resignation. There are only so many more Sundays in the Park when we still might make a difference…
This is that weekend. At least, I think it might be. The one perfect fall weekend where the aspen trees are orange and yellow against the evergreens and the maples are red, and the slant of the light tells us the days are getting shorter.
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