Park City Planning Commission Approves Affordable Housing Project in Old Town

The Park City Planning Commission approved a City Hall Workforce or otherwise restricted housing development in the heart Old Town last week. The project includes a combination of 58 townhomes and condominiums near the library and Woodside Park on the 1300 blocks of Empire Avenue, Woodside Avenue and Norfolk Avenue. The development’s ambitious scope is a sign of the City’s commitment towards combating Park City’s seemingly insurmountable dearth of affordable housing. Nevertheless, the high density of units among high-priced real estate—which is precisely what makes the proposal a compelling step in the right direction—has unleashed a degree of public backlash against the project.

The one dissenting vote among the Park City Planning Commission against the development came from Planning Commissioner Laura Suesser, who described the project as “too dense.” Suesser was not alone in her concern, as the topic of density in a highly-valued area came up repeatedly during the public input phase of the project. In one instance, attorney Nicole Deforge, while representing Empire Avenue homeowner Douglas Lee, submitted a letter to the Planning Commission alleging the project does not comply with City Hall rules regarding parking, open space and historic preservation, among other issues.

Since Park City is the developer for the project, some maintain the new construction won’t obey to the strict requirements private developers must adhere to. Supporters of the project—as well as city officials—assert those concerns are unfounded. Of the 58 units, 52 will be priced as either affordable or attainable housing, which means buyers must qualify for purchase through their income levels. The remaining six units will be sold at market prices, with the revenue going back into the housing program and reducing the subsidy required to fund the project.

If the City is to complete its goal of delivering 800 units of affordable and attainable housing by the end of 2026, aggressive projects like the Woodside Park development are going to become increasingly common. Veiled Nimbyism can’t be allowed to derail the progress essential to securing a future in Park City for both primary residents and second homeowners.

Even the full 800 units will only do so much to fix an increasingly untenable housing situation for working people in Park City, but even so, the city’s efforts are admirable. Addressing the housing disparity reduces number of commuters driving to work each day and will only serve to help local business of all types and sizes reliably operate at full employment. It’s a win for all sides, and hopefully the first of many.

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Tony Gill
Tony Gill
Tony Gill is the outdoor and Park City editor for Salt Lake Magazine and previously toiled as editor-in-chief of Telemark Skier Magazine. Most of his time ignoring emails is spent aboard an under-geared single-speed on the trails above his home.

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