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|Rights Holder||Swift Communications, Carson City, Nevada|
|Publisher||Digitized by J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah|
-i -s, . Park City, Utah Vol. VII, No. 17 Thursday, January 14, 1982 Two Sections, 28 Pages : s Firefighters dump water on the Blue Church Lodge as the full moon shines overhead. Photo by Michael Spauldirig. Vetoed by council M oratorium plan touches off avalanche of projects by Bettina Moench What the Historic District Commission Commis-sion intended, with its proposed three-month mortorium on certain buildings on Main Street, was to allow time to develop guidelines to preserve and protect the architectural and historical integrity of the area. What happened instead, however, was that the word "moratorium" sent a scare through developers, who rushed up to the Planning Department last week to submit their projects before the City Council voted on the proposal. The first meeting of the City Council in 1982 saw a large crowd gather in the Memorial Building last Thursday. More than half the group came to the protest the proposed moratorium, insisting that the move would effetively put an end to development on Main Street for more than a year. As proposed, the moratorium would have put a hold on processing or approvals of demolition in the Historic Commercial Business (HCB) district, or on new buildings above 28 feet. "I'm opposed to the ordinance, and it's not necessarily because of the height limitation," said Main Street Historic workshop Long list of preservation ideas t 9 Nore Winter called them his "wild and crazy ideas." Winter, a consultant for Park City's Historic District Commission, listed 19 ideas for incentives, tax breaks, or grants which might encourage developers de-velopers to preserve historic structures struc-tures or build small-scale buildings. The proposals and counter-proposals took up a large part of discussion at a public workshop Tuesday night at the Marsac School. This was the second major workshop conducted by Winter and his associates from the Colorado firm of Downing-Leach. Downing-Leach. The series of public meetings is designed to help the firm develop guide-lines for the Historic Commission. Commis-sion. In past meetings, preservationists have advocated keeping the varied rooflines and old buildings of Main Street. But developers have pleaded that expensive land values on Main Street often make it necessary for them to build large-scale structures up resident Nick Nass. "I can see the argument that you want to give consultants a chance to come up with guidelines. But it's taken a long time to get things moving on Main Street. I want to see the momentum of building continue I want to see buildings fill in the empty lots. "It seems to me like you're throwng a monkey wrench into the momentum that's finally developed." Councilman Bob Wells agreed with Nass. He said he wasn't in favor of the moratorium as proposed, just as he had not been in favor of the Historic District Commission (HDC) when it was formed. He said it was his understanding that the HDC would work with the Planning Commission on guidelines. "But these people now have determined deter-mined that they aren't capable of doing that and that we need to hire consultants," said Wells. "That process pro-cess is in its ninth or tenth month, and I don't think a three-month moratorium will help that." Developer Mike Doilney told the council that he had a considerable investment in property on Main Street and has been involved in major planning. ML. to the allowed limit of 45 feet to make a profit. Winter presented four basic options for the audience to consider on height: (1) Downzoning, (2) modifications to large buildings, with taller stories stepped back from the street, (3) preventing demolition of old structures and (4) leaving the height code as it is. One much-discussed solution was the transfer of development rights. In this case, said Winter, a builder might keep his Main Street project to two stories instead of five. In return, his three stories of air rights could be transferred trans-ferred or sold to a project in another zone, which would be allowed to build that project much taller than normally allowed by code. Developer Gary Levine saw a flaw in that. "You're just transferring the war somewhere else," he said. Citizens at the meeting disagreed about the broad goals of the district. Levine said the city should preserve specified old buildings instead of an Blue Church Lodge Fire destroys another landmark For the second time in less than six months, a Park City landmark has become the victim of an early morning fire. The Blue Church Lodge, the largest frame structure in Park City dating back to the fire of 1898, was gutted early Saturday by a fire apparently touched off by a space heater. Nancy Schmidt, the manager of the facility, said she and her husband Roger were asleep in their home at 435 Park Ave., directly across the street from the lodge, when they were awakened by a crowd of people gathering in the street. "Roger got up and looked out the window and said, 'My God, the church is on fire!'" The people in the street, some dressed only in nightgowns, were Blue Church guests who had smelled smoke and evacuated the building. Mrs. Schmidt said there were 16 guests; all escaped safely. "The guests told us they called the fire department before they came over here," she said. Roger Schmidt told The Newspaper that he grabbed a flashlight and a small fire extinguisher and entered the building, first checking a small trash room just inside the front door. He said he could see smoke seeping up through the floorboards and ran to the old boiler room in the basement. "I stuck my head in there, and that's where I first saw flame." By this time, he said, the fire department had arrived, and at his urging a fireman went into the boiler room and apparently extinguished the flames. However, Schmidt said he soon discovered flames coming from a smaHroomiiinhe first floor, and once "If we are delayed 90 days, it will probably cause us to consider an entirely new plan," said Doilney. Doilney's partner, Randy Fields, added, "If you put a 90-day moratorium morator-ium on construction, it will change the minds of the lenders who already are reluctant (about projects on Main Street). We also will lose a window in the financing. And with $10 million in construction at risk, I'll recommend to Mike to stop the project and hold the land. A moratorium is crippling not just for us, for everyone. What we don't need is one more mark for lenders who already think Park City is a crazy place to lend money." Dan Willard, who also intends to build on Main Street, told the council that a 28-foot building limitation didn't guarantee an aesthetically-pleasing project design. "A 28-foot building could be ugly, while a 45-foot one could be better looking; it depends on the architect, the Planning Commission and the Historic District Commission," he said. Doilney said he felt developers in the Main Street area were concerned with Moratorium to 3 entire area. "They preserved Abraham Abra-ham Lincoln's house," he said. "They didn't preserve the whole neighborhood." neighbor-hood." Developer Mike Doilney said he supported methods to encourage varied building. He said the street would be hurt having all buildings at 45 feet. "But I also really believe in individual property rights." He cautioned the city not to reject new styles. "If an Historic District had existed in 1926, it would have rejected the Egyptian, because that clashed with the style of Main Street," he said. "It hasn't got one character, but a series of characters." But Helen Alvarez responded that a problem came when "a new character" char-acter" massively invaded the street in a short period of time. Doilney continued, "If a developer is kept to one story, he might lease ou for as much as $25 a foot." That could bring bankruptcy to shops on Main Street, he said. again brought it to the attention of the firefighters. He reported that a fireman, dragging drag-ging a hose, entered the room, then came out a few minutes later. "He said, 'We got it out. There's a hot spot in there that might flare up again, but we got it out.'" Schmidt said he wasn't convinced. "I could still see a glow." Again he approached a member of the fire department. "But he said he wasn't going in alone." Schmidt's attempt to direct the firefighting operations apparently were not appreciated. He said he was "Roger got up and looked out the window and said, 'My God, the church is on fire.'" told, quite forcefully, by a police officer, that he had three choices: move across the street, go home, or go to jail. He went home. But the firefighters didn't. "The fire spread into areas where there was very little fire blocking," Park City Fire Marshall Herb Johnson said. According to Johnson, the firefighters fire-fighters were hindered by alterations to the building which allowed the flames to burn in concealed areas. He said one fire crew dumped countless gallons of water through one window, only to discover that it had been blocked block-ed off on the inside. At one time there were as many as 40 firefighters and six trucks on the scene. But they were unable to control But Bill Mammen said the 45-footers were also financially risky. "It's a question whether any of those would be white elephants." Don Hutchison, offering a third view, said economic survival on Main Street depended on the individual business. "You can't come up with a scheme that guarantees economic feasibility," he said. LaMont Gunnerson questioned whether the town's history is vital to the economy. "We've had an historic district since the 1880s, but people started coming here after we got skiing." Mammen, citing a poll taken by the Chamber of Commerce, disagreed. "When people ski, they come to this ski area because of its history." Levine asked Winter if a change in height zoning on Main Street might bring lawsuits from developers who had invested there under other rules. "What if his plans were in his head and not down on paper yet?," Levine ".7. 1 .18.104.22.168. .... . .11 .1. ..1 11.11 .. .-in . 1 m, j?! ' ; - w r.t S MmA - The burned hulk of the building serves as a backdrop to ice-covered trees Saturday. Photo by David Hampshire. the flames. Water dumped on the fire poured into several nearby buildings, including includ-ing the Memorial Building. The water was about eight inches deep on the basement floor, flooding offices occupied occu-pied by the Park City Recreation Department and KPCW. At 10 a.m. fire crews were still on the scene. Johnson said the metal roof of the building eventually collapsed, trapping combustible material underneath under-neath and deflecting the water from the hoses. Then, about 3 p.m., another concern surfaced. One wall of the building was threatening to collapse on the two structures directly to the east, including The Newspaper office. Johnson said a crew was called back to direct a stream of water on the wall to prevent it from falling outwards. Meanwhile, the 16 displaced guests were sorting through what remained of their possessions. One woman reported that she had lost a diamond ring which was left on a dresser when the flames broke out. Other were left with nothing but what they were wearing. Responding to an appeal by Debbie Symonds, executive director of the Park City Chamber Visitors Bureau, several local businesses invited the people into their stores to choose new outfits. Investigators from the State Fire fuels meetin: asked. Winter said a suit could probably be expected. But his colleague, Barbara Cole, said it wouldn't be very strong unless a project's plans had been drawn and submitted to the city. Winter's long list of incentives for preserving buildings included the following: abatement of property taxes; special building codes or zoning variances for old buildings; reduced city fees; speedy plan review; low interest loans through the city (said Katharine Janka, "I don't think a small town can do that.") ; Industrial Revenue Bonds; preservation grants; federal tax credit assistance; tax deductions available for the facades of buildings; acquisition and condemnation; condemna-tion; or financing through tax increments. incre-ments. The meeting concluded with a second major issue: the historic residential area. Winter presented possible options for the future, such as restrictions or incentives to avoid Marshall's office were called to the scene, as well as an insurance investigator from Las Vegas. At this writing, their findings have not been released. However, Johnson believes the fire was touched off by one of two gas-fired space heaters in the first-floor room where Schmidt reported seeing flames. "I'd say that it's an accidental lire caused by a lack of code compliance," Johnson said Wednesday. "By that I mean that, if you were to pu! the heaters in today, you would have to put drywall in behind them ... But they were set directly upon wood and against wood." However, Schmidt contends that the heaters had been checked recently. "We just had all the heaters serviced, every heater in the whole place," he said. "They were all inspected and adjusted." What later became known as the Blue Church was originally the first chapel of the Mormon Church in Park City. The first structure on the site was destroyed in the fire of 1898, but construction began on a new church the following year and was formally opened in 1900. A 30-foot addition to the rear of the building was constructed in the 1920s. It was sold after a new Mormon church was built in the early 1960s. Schmidt indicated that the owner of the property, Robert J. Lewis of Great Falls, Virginia, was due to arrive in Park City late Wednesday evening, after this paper went to press. He indicated that Lewis had expressed an interest in rebuilding the lodge. Architect Roy Reynolds said that he would be meeting with Lewis Thursday. demolition, and reduced parking on site to reduce auto congestion. Resident Katharine Janka said the area had become "really junky." She said, however, that the city might want to preserve some structures and a certain density. Nick Nass disagreed with Janka saying he loved to walk around Old Town. "I think it's fascinating-an old house here, a '39 Ford there. 1 don't want to have it look like Thaynes Canyon." Gunnerson argued that the area should be up-zoned to provide affordable afford-able housing in the city. Mammen responded that construction construc-tion costs preclude low-income housing there. And architect Roy Reynolds recalled low-income projects on the Fast coast. "There was a nice windfall profit for the first owner when he sold the unit, and the homes sought the level of the areas surrounding them." The next Historic District meeting will be held Feb. 9.