Park City Council was briefed on the progress of the proposed arts and culture district at Thursday’s council meeting.
Although the project has been complicated due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the plan to begin demolition on the five-acre parcel of land at the corner of Kearns Boulevard and Bonanza Drive this November is still on schedule – for now.
Deputy City Manager David Everitt says the onset of the pandemic did make the city reevaluate their plans, though.
“The beginning of 2020 hit and we all got thrown for a loop, to put it mildly. COVID hit and I don’t in any way want to downplay the impact of that, particularly on arts organizations,” he said. “Obviously, it still had a pretty impactful effect on the city budget but I want to acknowledge that, obviously, that’s really affected our thinking.”
Everitt says despite the complications due to COVID-19, much of the pre-development work was able to continue unhindered. He says the master planning district is on schedule to be submitted later this month.
Construction is slated to begin next April with an opening date of November 2023.
One of the main concerns for the future of the project is the projected hit in tax revenue earmarked to fund the construction. Park City is using funding from several sources, including a 1% transient room tax (TRT) paid by overnight guests to the city. The TRT revenue is projected to take a $1 million hit in fiscal year 2021 and is not expected to return to pre-pandemic levels until 2025. Although Everitt says these are conservative estimates, with so much of Park City’s economy tied to tourism, future TRT revenue remains murky.
Councilman Steve Joyce expressed his concern in the loss of tax revenue and questioned how the city will be able to hit the projected $70 million cost of the project while staying on schedule.
“Maybe part of that is some sort of staged development but I don’t think we’ve seen anything like that yet where you could literally build part A and sit for two or three years while you accumulated transient room tax or something like that and then build part B,” Joyce said. “I’m just really concerned about the dollars in all of this. Not just ‘how do we recover from coronavirus,’ but even if we were still fat, dumb, and happy from February of this year, I have the same issues.”
Another question raised at Thursday’s meeting was about walkability to and from the district around the crowded Kearns Boulevard and Bonanza Drive. Councilman Tim Henney says he wants to see more pedestrian options in the building plans going forward.
“I just keep thinking about all the people that I see on foot, pedestrians, in this area today,” Henney said. “If the idea is to get them inside of this and use it as a pedestrian plaza and walkway, but without a connection over Bonanza, or across Bonanza, or under Bonanza, you know, that’s a huge issue for me.”
The full presentation is available on Park City’s Facebook page and a roundtable discussion on the arts and culture district is scheduled for Wednesday, July 15.