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Park City Hopes to Push Ahead On Arts and Culture District Despite Financial Hit

Park City Municipal

Three years ago, Park City announced the purchase of a five-acre parcel at the corner of Kearns Boulevard and Bonanza Drive on which it plans to redevelop an arts and culture district. After Thursday’s Park City Council meeting, the project may finally be getting some traction.


Deputy City Manager David Everitt is overseeing the project. He’s looking for council direction at Thursday’s meeting about how to proceed. With the financial impacts of the COVID-10 crisis unknown, Park City is forging ahead with the district as the new center of creativity. 


Even though the funding source for the project the 1% municipal Transient Room Tax, or TRT, paid for by overnight guests, has been impacted - the city, he says, still sees a number of opportunities.


“I’ve been in this business quite a while and I've seen this, for a lack of a better term, the simulative effect of doing these kinds of projects when the economy is in a really dark place,” Everitt said. “And I think that it's sort of ironically fortuitous timing in a way that we have an opportunity to really create jobs and bring people in to do the kind of construction work this project would require at this time.”


The city’s partners in the project are the Kimball Art Center and Sundance Institute. Both nonprofits are expected to purchase property from the city here, where they’ll build their new headquarters. Both organizations have recently laid off staff members as they deal with the impacts of the coronavirus. 


Everitt says they still have some time to get their plans and funding together as a lot of infrastructure work has to be completed first.


“The city is still very enthusiastic about being partners with them moving forward but we totally understand that they face different realities as nonprofit organizations,” he said. “The timing is flexible in terms of the other organizations that would come on and we're moving ahead with the city’s portion of the project with that flexibility really baked into our plan. But there’s a lot of the construction works honestly that needs to be done to get the district going no matter when the partners came on have to happen ahead of their construction regardless.”


The funding for the development, coming from the municipal TRT, has been hit hard by the pandemic.


“The conservative approach has been to not expect TRT  revenues to return to pre-COVID levels until approximately fiscal year 2025,” he said. “So hopefully it'll come back sooner but if not, we're projecting with the way that budget works with the way the cash flow works we still are able to make the project pencil.”


Even after the property is paid for, the 1% TRT will continue to be collected for ongoing maintenance and operations of the district.


The $70 million project does not include moving the substation or power lines nearby.  The powerlines have to be moved, but he says that’s a future discussion – related, but separate. 


Thursday’s meeting will focus on the city’s portion of the redevelopment. 


“The majority of the site is going to be a city-owned and managed property, which includes, as you know, significant affordable housing components, two levels of parking underground, and a major transit transfer point for the region,” Everitt said.  “And that also includes a really, I think, expansive and inclusive plaza area on the surface that really goes the length of the property there from Munchkin all the way down to almost to the point there at Kearns and Bonanza.”


Right now, the plans contemplate 40 affordable housing units – 250 – and 300-underground parking spots–and a major transit hub. 


The Park City Council meets Thursday starting with this discussion at 4:30 via Zoom.

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