Main St. icons may be in trouble
Park City preservationists may want to get out their armbands and protest signs.
Last week, The Park Record noted that the 106-year-old Centennial, the once-stately, now-abandoned boarding house at the top of Main Street had been condemned.
This week, our attention moved down the street where an equally historic landmark, the ClaimJumper is slated for a major renovation.
Both sites have been eyed by developers for makeovers. Both are currently shuttered and therefore, detracting from the otherwise vibrant atmosphere of Park City’s downtown core.
The two buildings serve as bookends between volumes of colorful mining town history and help set Park City’s historic district apart from the evolving landscape of new construction.
The future of the Centennial is on unsteady footings literally. Two years ago the building was severely damaged by spring floodwaters. Since the tenants left, it has fast deteriorated into a hazardous eyesore.
But it is not too late to rescue the old dame. A creative architect teamed with a committed community could conceivably save the building and mitigate a dire need in the city affordable housing.
Nearby at the old Fields Cookie College, a property owner once succeeded in running a successful youth hostel that provided transition lodging for seasonal employees just arriving in town. Like that or the old Miners Hospital, when it was situated at the base of the ski area in the 1970s, the Centennial could be renovated to house much needed service industry workers.
One mechanism for funding such an ambitious endeavor would be to allow developers to transfer some of their affordable housing commitments to the project.
As for the ClaimJumper, developers have sound plans to convert the upper floors into residential units and reopen a restaurant. Understandably, the surrounding merchants are anxious to see the restaurant’s patrons return. But it is important that the city hold the new property owner to all of the historic district guidelines, even if it delays the approval process.
Park City’s distinctive mining-era buildings were once threatened by economic depression and fires. Citizens though, recognized their intrinsic value. These days, prosperity and a hot real estate market are posing similar hazards and those who care about the unique historic character of the town, must ensure the historic district is not lost, one building at a time.
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Ray Freer writes in a guest editorial that residents deserve more answers about the process that led to the controversial Black Lives Matter mural on Main Street in July.