Headphones, skiing, and a developer. What do they have in common? A brewery.
As you may know, the Boyer Technology Park (across from Redstone on 224) is a controversial topic. It started out as a pretty good idea; bring high paying technology jobs to Park City. Yet, it has failed to deliver on that promise. It seems few technology companies (in one of the biggest booms ever) find the tech park compelling.
What we have now is one building in a tech Park that houses a visitor’s center, a vacation rental business, a coffee shop, a physical therapy location, and a few assorted other businesses. It’s hardly Google.
Last year, Skull Candy (who makes headphones) was granted the right to build an office in the tech park. This was under the auspices of outdoor recreation research, which appears to be permissable under the development agreement Summit County signed with Boyer (the developer). Skull Candy appears to be ready to begin the planning process for a development in the Tech Center.
Contrast that with the ski company, Armada, made famous by local celebrity Tanner Hall. They moved here from Southern California and are in the process of renovating a space on Rasmussen Road by Burt Brothers. I’ve heard that one of the things they really like about their current space is that it sits about 100 feet away from Park City Brewing Company. It’s just not the beer but the creativity and energy that often accompanies a brewery. In some ways it seems brewing beer and skiing are somewhat kindred spirits.
Now, consider the what-if. What if there was a brewery in the tech park? Instead of wide open space that appears devoid of everything, what if there was a kindred spirit sitting there? Would Armada have made the choice to move there instead? If Armada and Skullcandy both had offices there, along with a brewery, would other outdoor research companies follow?
I heard through the grapevine that a brewery had attempted to receive permission to build in the tech park within the last couple of years and were denied. In hindsight, perhaps that was a mistake. The agreement governing the land says that permitted uses include “Incidental commercial uses principally located within the Research Park to support other permitted and approved conditional uses, such as restaurants, private clubs …” You might argue that this language really means “a small deli shop in a building.” However, it doesn’t say that. You may argue that there isn’t anyone to “serve” yet so building a brewery isn’t INCIDENTAL since there is hardly anyone there. Yet, the language of the agreement says that a restaurant has to support “permitted uses” and not “permitted uses that have been constructed.” There is a million square feet of permitted “Armadas” and “Skull Candy’s” to be built. Do you think they’d like a beer?
More importantly, do you think more of those type of companies would come if there was a brewery only a few feet away? I do.
Of course, you could argue that the agreement’s designation of INCIDENTAL uses doesn’t apply here, because a brewery could service people outside of the tech park. Of course you could argue that Skullcandy isn’t an “outdoor research company” too. It’s all semantics.
If we truly want “outdoor technology” companies to choose Park City over Ogden we have to make an effort. Allowing a brewery in the tech park isn’t a bad start. Imagine a world where you have a few “Skull Candy’s” and a couple breweries in a campus environment. It becomes a much easier sell.
Now, of course, we could argue whether we as citizens would have preferred to keep the entire area as open space (that ship has sailed). Or we could say that we want to keep requirements as stiff as possible to keep the area as defacto-open space. I suppose that’s fair too.
Yet, if we really want to bring research and technical jobs to Park City… and we want a million square feet of them … a brewery isn’t a bad place to start.