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Kimball Art Center needs new home, residents say

The Kimball Art Center's young artists who participate in the year-long Young Artists Academy.
Kimball Art Center
The Kimball Art Center's young artists who participate in the year-long Young Artists Academy.

The nonprofit Kimball Art Center and its supporters continue to lobby city hall for a future arts and culture district in Bonanza Park.

In 2017 under former Park City Mayor Jack Thomas, the Park City Council purchased a 5-acre parcel at the corner of Bonanza Drive and Kearns Boulevard for $19 million.

The plan was to use the land to build a new arts and culture district, with the Kimball Art Center and Sundance Institute as core tenants.

After initial estimates pegged the project at around $45 million, ballooning construction costs amid the pandemic saw projections up to $100 million, not counting the money the city paid for the land. The plan also included housing development on the parcel, contributing to the total cost.

Plans were eventually scaled back to around $65 million in 2021, but community concerns over a now-abandoned project for a place to store the mining-tinged soil from the construction site eventually shelved the arts and culture district.

Last fall, the city council decided to hit the reset button. A new study committee was launched with one main task: to determine if the public still wants an arts district.

Kimball Art Center supporters have made it clear they do at recent city council meetings.

More than 15 people spoke in favor of a new home for the Kimball Art Center at the council’s meeting Thursday, including the nonprofit’s board chair, Lisa Shine.

“I fully support the action taken by the 2017 council to sell land from the Kearns/Bonanza parcel to the Kimball Art Center," Shine said. "By providing the ability to build a dedicated space, we can create a vibrant hub - a community living room, that not only embraces the quality of life for our residents, but also attracts visitors, bolstering our local economy and solidifying Park City’s reputation as a thriving arts destination.”

For years the Kimball Art Center was headquartered in Old Town, on Heber Avenue in between Main Street and Park Avenue. Since 2015, the nonprofit has been based just off Kearns Boulevard near the Boneyard Saloon, in what executive director Aldy Milliken has characterized as a short-term solution.

Snyderville Basin resident Kelly Gallagher, who teaches a welding course at the Kimball, said a new space is needed.

“Right now the welding studio is sharing space with some of the ceramics area and also metalsmithing," Gallagher said. "It’s incredibly cramped, and we can’t all be in there at the same time. So a new and larger Kimball could potentially allow these different arts forms to be separated a little bit and it would really allow us to expand the educational opportunities.” 

Deputy Park City Manager Jen McGrath said the committee evaluating the parcel will likely present results to the council at the beginning of 2024.