Transit Circulation a Complex Problem for PCMR Base Development
At this week’s Park City Planning Commission meeting, transit circulation and new architectural designs were the sole topic of discussion.
At Wednesday night’s Park City Planning Commission meeting, city staff laid out what they called a ‘transit first’ philosophy for the proposed base development project at Park City Mountain Resort.
Staff presented a pair of options for traffic and bus circulation around the construction -- one above ground with dedicated bus lanes, and another with a significant portion of the bus traffic rerouted underground.
The developer of the project, PEG Companies, favors the above ground option and says it presents the most practical and financially feasible of the two. Although taking busses off of surface streets would free up space for cars, routing busses underground is costly, and the plan would require bus stops at the base area to be moved.
Critics say the current transit plans, as well as the various architectural designs, do not adhere to the original 1998 master plan, which governs the project. PEG is currently asking for exceptions to some of those requirements, like building heights and setback limitations.
The hang up stems from language in the current code that does not explicitly define what ‘architectural variation’ means. PEG argues that because of the vagueness of the language, the decisions on what is and is not allowed for construction is ultimately up to the planning commission to decide, says PEG Planning Consultant Stan Kozlowski.
“It is not specific relative to what the ‘variation’ means, so we’ve been all along trying to take input, take community and try to create a building that takes into account everything with what we think are little to minor asks to those pink and green and beige lines you saw last night relative to setbacks and volumetrics,” Kozlowski says. “Obviously, 1998 was a long time ago, so we’re trying to balance the two things relative to the, also, current neighborhood.”
Despite the input and public meetings, some critics are still not satisfied with the plans as they are currently proposed. Nicole Deforge spoke on behalf of the Responsible Resort Area Development Coalition community group and said the project is taking a ‘design first, transit later’ approach.
“We wholeheartedly endorse this idea of ‘transit first’ and that that needs to be guiding the design and development rather than being dictated by the design and the development,” said Deforge. “It feels like the plans that we’re looking at are really more the secondary consideration, that the developer has designed first, and then based on that design is trying to fix the transit and transportation mess that’s created by that design.”
Getting in and out of the resort area of downtown Park City on a crowded winter day can routinely take a half hour or more. One possible solution suggested by city staff was to move underground parking off site and take advantage of a more robust bussing system to take guests to and from the mountain.
In theory, this sounds like a simple solution, but PEG Vice President of Development Robert Schmidt says the company does not control any land outside of the base area. Any off-site solutions would require significant cooperation from the city.
“Well, I think there’s going to be continued conversations on that,” he says. “The fact of the matter is that PEG Development, PEG Companies, we only control land at the base here at Park City Mountain Resort, so we don’t have options to move it off site.”
PEG’s current underground parking plans would charge for day parking, something Schmidt says will also help alleviate congestion at the mountain.
Schmidt says PEG is targeting an April date for a decision from the planning commission on the project and would break ground soon after. The next two planning commission meetings to discuss the base development project are tentatively scheduled for February and March 17th.