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Summit County

Harmons hears it's unlikely to get additional square footage from Summit County

Harmons Park City[94].jpg
Courtesy of Harmons
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Outlets Park City is hoping a Harmons grocery store will be the shopping center's new anchor tenant.

Outlets Park City is trying to bring in a Harmons grocery store as a new anchor business. On Tuesday, the Harmons team met with the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission to see if the store’s proposed design would be allowed.

There are a lot of numbers in the proposal to build a Harmons at Outlets Park City.

64,000: That’s the approximate square footage of the existing buildings that Harmons is proposing to demolish to build its new store.

9,619: That’s the number of additional square feet the designers are requesting, above what is currently allowed.

2: The number of stories, including a mezzanine, that would be in the new Harmons. Summit County says it’s that second story that pushes the square footage above the limit.

2.3: That’s the policy in the Snyderville Basin General Plan that prohibits new entitlements unless they bring a “compelling countervailing” public benefit that can’t be accomplished another way.

Harmons is arguing the mezzanine it’s proposing provides just that public benefit, but at a recent meeting, at least some Snyderville Basin planning commissioners disagreed.

The Harmons team met with the planning commission for about 90 minutes on Tuesday, and policy 2.3 was at the center of the conversation. The commission did not take action on the proposal.

Harmons representatives, including architect Erica Strohmeier, described the mezzanine as a place to stop and get out of the weather or enjoy a snack and free Wi-Fi in the seating area.

“The spaces in the mezzanine are really what make the difference for Harmons,” Strohmeier told the commission. “That includes some of the things that we showcased today, specifically the cooking school, areas for community-based events, the seating, dining and even conference room space, if that is something that is needed by the community.”

Strohmeier said the designers have reduced the building’s size — both its footprint and overall square footage — since the project first came to the commission in September.

County code still requires the mezzanine to count as square footage, even though the building’s footprint would be the same whether the mezzanine is built or not.

Most commissioners suggested support for the project and Harmons grocery stores in general, but questioned some aspects of the plan, including the additional density.

New Commissioner DJ Hubler said grocery stores use nearly double the energy that traditional retail stores do. Others suggested the store could reduce traffic heading to Kimball Junction.

Commissioner Thomas Cooke said the idea behind policy 2.3 was not to add incidental public benefits, but rather large-scale community assets.

“When we talk about ‘compelling public interest,’ I think we're generally, in our general plan, we're talking about open space, we're talking about things like hospitals or transit centers or senior centers. We're not really talking about features or amenities within a private business and then trying to package that as an overwhelming community benefit,” Cooke said. “It's actually kind of absurd to claim that this would be a countervailing public interest.”

The proposal is expected to come back to the planning commission in the next few months. The commission’s task is to recommend a course of action to the County Council, which is this project’s final land-use authority. A staff report prepared for Tuesday’s meeting says there will be at least one public hearing on the matter, as well.