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City Council Circles Around $65 Million Construction Price Tag for Arts and Culture District

Park City Municipal

At last week’s city council meeting, Park City officials began to settle around a proposal for the arts and culture district that would cost the city roughly $65 million in construction costs.


The $65 million proposal heard on Thursday did not include the $19.5 million the city paid for the five acres on the corner of Kearns Boulevard and Bonanza Drive in 2017. With the cost of land, the total amount for the project would be roughly $85 million.


The proposal would include 60 units of affordable housing and would omit one of the buildings planned for the southern corner of the parcel, originally planned as a transit cafe and performance space. Costs would be further cut by building housing above other spaces and exploring more economical building materials.


Council or Max Doilney said it was the closest the council has gotten to a feasible plan since the discussions began nearly one year ago. 


“This is the most comprehensive and most accurate representation of our conversations to date that I have seen come back,” Doilney said. “Every time we come back it seems like there’s an element of sort of surprise or something. We’ve done this eight times and this most accurately addresses what we’ve talked about to date.” 


However, there was still some trepidation around some of the details.

Councilor Steve Joyce has been one of the most outspoken skeptics of the project -- particularly of the financial model. He said he came around on a lot of his concerns Thursday night but was still wanting answers on how the city plans to fill several of the buildings planned for construction.


“I like where you guys have gone on the financials,” said Joyce. “I think we’re a lot closer to something that I can swallow. The one thing that I don’t understand ... I need to get more understanding of how we go from two big shells to actual useful, productive space.”


A suggestion to that problem was to meet with local nonprofits to see if they had interest in some of the space as meeting rooms or other offices. The Sundance Institute and Kimball Arts Center are already expected to construct headquarters at the site, but no concrete agreements are currently in place.


Councilor Nann Worel told KPCW that although other nonprofits showed little initial interest in the site, she has heard in recent weeks of a potential need from some of those organizations. 


“Recently, we’ve been approached by several nonprofits saying, ‘hey, we really could use that office space now. We really could use a space where we could all meet together, where we could have our board meetings or a conference room we could use or something like that,’” she said. “We’re willing to revisit that and I think we’re going to pull together a group of nonprofits to kind of explore that further of what really do they need?  


Worel added she believes the city is close to presenting a concrete plan for the arts and culture district to the public and encourages feedback as the discussions continue in June.

Sean Higgins covers all things Park City and is the Saturday Weekend Edition host at KPCW. Sean spent the first five years of his journalism career covering World Cup skiing for Ski Racing Media here in Utah and served as Senior Editor until January 2020. As Senior Editor, he managed the day-to-day news section of skiracing.com, as well as produced and hosted Ski Racing’s weekly podcast. During his tenure with Ski Racing Media, he was also a field reporter for NBC Sports, covering events in Europe.