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New Arts and Culture Scenarios Could Cut Initial Costs by Over $30 Million



PARK CITY, Utah – City Council in Park City reviewed a number of new construction scenarios for the proposed arts and culture district. If adopted by the council, initial costs could drop by upwards of $30 million.

To say there was sticker shock at the all-in price of over $107 million for the proposed arts and culture district in Park City is an understatement.

During a public hearing in late March, the public’s concerns were heard loud and clear by city council. Many questioned the financial model laid out by the city, as well as the overall scope of the project.

At this week’s council meeting, staff and councillors tried to address many of those community concerns and worked through several proposed scenarios for phased construction of the district.

The most drastic scenario presented would cut initial costs by over $30 million. Park City Mayor Andy Beerman told KPCW that council was most receptive to a middle ground between a bare bones first phase and everything happening at once. All of the prices discussed by the council did not include the $19.5 million the city paid for the land in 2017.

“Those were much more on a budget,” Beerman said. “We’re looking at the scenarios that council preferred and asking to come back with are probably in that $55-$65 million range. They don’t tap into the additional resort tax and they don’t leverage the [transient room tax] quite as far. We think that that’s a budget range that we can do this responsibly and now it’s just a matter of figuring out phasing that makes sense and how many of the community wants and needs we can fit in there.”

One piece of the puzzle that needs to still get figured out is how much housing to build in the initial phase of construction. City staff proposed an initial buildout of 28 units, with the remaining 30 or so to come later.

Councilor Becca Gerber noted the city is obligated to build a certain amount of housing as part of the greater project and wondered if more should be done now as opposed to later.

“I know that that’s still been a discussion about do we do housing here or not, but this does have a housing obligation,” said Gerber. “I think, for me, the question is, how much more we’re going to do, but I have a little bit of an issue with phasing housing and not meeting our original obligation at least and only doing 28 units if we should have to have more than 28 units for the site.”

Beerman said one of the main advantages of phasing and scaling back certain aspects of the project is that the city would be flexible to pursue more of the city’s housing goals.

Under the all-in option, the city’s hands would likely be tied for the better part of a decade when it comes to housing and open space, including future projects at the Homestake and Woodside lots. With more wiggle room, Beerman said those projects are still on the table.

“Woodside is being redesigned right now and I think council is going to see some new proposals back shortly and Homestake, that was there we targeted to try to do a public-private partnership and I believe we have a request for proposal that’s going to go out to some interesting parties very soon here,” Beerman said. “We’re going to explore that and the good news, if we don’t leverage ourselves as far on the arts and culture district, we maintain a significant war chest that if we can’t find a private or a nonprofit partner to work with on Homestake, we still have the ability as the city to move forward.”

Despite the progress this week, Beerman admitted there is still a long way to go before before any shovels go in the ground.

He said he hopes the council settles on a phasing scenario for the project in the coming weeks and expects more public input to be part of the process moving forward.

“I think we’re circling around a budget we can work with, a concept we can work with,” he said. “Next meeting we’ll probably settle on a scenario and then it’s important we meet with our stakeholders and we find out timelines for Kimball and Sundance because they’re pivotal to moving forward, but then we’ll enter into an extensive design phase and then we still have to go through the whole planning commission process. I’ve had some people say, ‘well, why are we letting ourselves off? Why aren’t we looking at this like we’re looking at PEG and the base development?’ And my answer is because we’re at the start of the project, not to that point. There’s gonna be lots more time for public input.”