Now is not the time to change the rules on the Kimball Junction Tech Park
The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.LEO TOLSTOY, WAR AND PEACE
Should we allow the Tech Park by the Skullcandy building to be turned into a hotel, 900 apartments, 200 more rental units, and retail? That is the question in front of the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission. That question will ultimately go to the Summit County Council.
The groups that support the Dakota Pacific developer and their desire for change cite the need for an affordable housing development that is transit-oriented and walkable in Kimball Junction. Critics of changing the Tech Park rules to allow increased development say that we fought hard for a tech park that could diversify our economy with higher-paying jobs and support the community as global warming encroaches on the winter resorts.
It’s been interesting watching the politics of it all. On the for-change side, you have the Summit County staff. According to the Park Record, “Unusually, county staffers also indicated support for the project, among them Regional Transportation Planning Director Caroline Rodriguez, Economic and Housing Director Jeff Jones and planner Kirsten Whetstone.” HMM. Its interesting that they are taking sides, but that’s a story for a another day.
Then you also have an individual, Tyler Quinn Smith from Jeremy Ranch, who has worked in land-use development and espouses “sustainable neighborhoods” writing a Park Record editorial and Facebook post that calls critics ill-informed and the “old-guard.” He also says, “Yet we are far outnumbered by older, wealthier homeowners who judge this project from their personal car windshield driving 60 mph down SR-224.”
On the against-change side, I guess you have that “old guard” in Sally Cousins-Elliot and Bob Richer who were both County Commission Members that approved the Tech Park in 2008. Elliot, commented in an email, “As the ski industry suffers the effects of climate change, we need to look to the future of our economic health. This is the ONLY location where we can encourage high tech diversity in our area with high end jobs. 1100 rental units and a 130 room hotel at this location is the wrong place, wrong time, wrong idea.”
Richer, in a KPCW interview, argued that the affordable units at the development weren’t really affordable with some that could cost $2,300 a month. He also stated that traffic would be worse under the Dakota Pacific proposal versus the slow build-out of the Tech Center. Finally, he said that Dakota Pacific came into this with eyes-wide-open.
I look at this somewhat differently. My day job is in tech, and I don’t know for certain if a tech park will work in Kimball Junction. Like most things, I believe there are few good ideas or bad ideas, just execution. To date, Boyer wasn’t successful. However, I’ve heard second-hand that some executives at the University of Utah Research Park didn’t even know there was a Tech Park in Park City. So, maybe Boyer was just crappy at marketing a Tech Center. That wouldn’t surprise me.
In my mind, Summit County has an ace in the hole with the Tech Park. The way it has played out has afforded us time. Time buys perspective and better knowledge. Who knows how this COVID thing plays out. Is it done in a few months or does it stretch for years? What does Park City and the Snyderville Basin look like afterward?
What does development in Wasatch County County look like when it gets going — including Mayflower. How many additional residences will there be on Park City’s doorsteps? 8,000? 20,000? More?
Closer to home, and already approved, we have Silver Creek Village, Park City Heights, the Canyons build-out, and Discovery (by Summit Park). Have you been out to Silver Creek Village lately? That’s the development with 1200 units out by Home Depot. If you haven’t you should take a look. I did, and I’m not sure what to make of it. I have no idea how that development will ultimately work, function, or tie into transit. I’m not sure of its broader impacts on the framework of the Basin and Park City.
The same can be said of the impacts from PC Heights, Discovery, Canyons, and the Wasatch County developments. What are the needs of the Snyderville Basin once the approved developments around us start to take form and begin to function? Do we need another school? Do we need parks? Do we need baseball fields? Do we need recreation facilities? Do we need a Tech Park, Do we need another hotel? Do we need apartments?
I don’t know.
We the people of Summit County have something very valuable in our possession with control over the use of the Tech Park. We have a piece of land that is defacto open-space that can become anything based upon the rules that we set. Some day it will be developed into something. It may become a Tech Park. It may become apartments. It may become forever open-space. It may become something we never thought we needed in 2020.
I would argue that if we allow Dakota Pacific to develop this right now, we are giving it away. We are trading our future for… I don’t know what… making the developer money?
I have not seen anything compelling enough from the developer to change the rules on this jewel. It’s just not worth it.
Tolstoy said the two most powerful warriors are patience and time. I believe if we have the patience, we will be provided with the time to make an optimal decision for the long-run of the Snyderville Basin and Park City. By waiting and turning down Dakota Pacific’s offer, I believe we will ultimately find a better use of the land.
I agree patience is a virtue. With ever expanding Silicon Slope development down south and redevelopment of the prison site into residential development it won’t be long before the commute is a nightmare and tech companies begin to look for optional locations. While C-19 will change the business landscape not everyone will work from home. On another note, promise of transit based communities have never delivered. Anyone notice all the empty buses occupying our road ways. Even pre-C-19 ridership outside of major events never achieved levels to make them more efficient than cars. We don’t need another big community at Kimbal right now. I’m for maintaining current zoning until we at least have short and long term transportation plans.
I’ve spent the summer doing a lot of road biking and have been surprised at how much residential development is taking place around Park City (all mentioned in the article). I agree with your points completely, there is no reason to rush into changing the zoning/development on Kimball Junction. Time is on our side.
Yeah, it is crazy to see it all happening. The condos by Quarry Village have taken me by surprise. I have seen them being built for years, but now my brain wonders, “where did they all come from?” I think it will be the same with Discovery by Sumit Park and Silver Creek Village.
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