Politics

Park City Council supports deeper affordability with Homestake housing project

PARK CITY, Utah. — The Park City Council received an update about the public/private Homestake housing project on Thursday.

The city owns the Homestake Lot located at 1875 Homestake Road and sees it as “an ideal location.” The city tries to create 800 affordable housing units in city limits by 2026, an objective set by the city council in 2016.

Initial design concepts were presented at the meeting Thursday. Park City Affordable Housing Manager, Jason Glidden, said that the city’s planning department is prioritizing developing a neighborhood plan for the area.

Glidden highlighted that part of the development process would bring sidewalks to Homestake Road, where there are currently none.

The proposed size of the project is 120 units, with 80% listed as affordable at 60% of area median income (AMI) — a one-bedroom affordable unit would cost $1,344 per month. The 60% AMI would limit any individual making above $56,160 annually from the affordable units, according to AMI data from the nonprofit Mountainlands Community Housing Trust.

The developer said they are willing to explore deeper affordability, and several council members expressed interest in it —  specifically, the allotment of 80% AMI units to host 40% AMI units.

A rendering presented Thursday. Photo: Park City Municipal Corporation

The development would include one-bedroom, two-bedroom, and three-bedroom units, with 20% of the total project being market-rate.

The proposal discussed Thursday also includes 5,000 square feet of commercial space. Councilor Jeremy Rubell said that seemed excessive.

“If we’re gonna put our stake in the ground and say this is going to be our residential affordable housing project while we plan the rest of the area, then we should probably stick to that,” Rubell said. “A little support, commercial type stuff would be okay for resident services.”

Rubell said he wants to see public safety and public service personnel prioritized for the affordable units, such as firefighters and teachers.

The parcel is currently occupied by a parking lot, with nearby restaurants like Boneyard Saloon and Bling Dog often using it as an overflow parking area.

Councilor Tana Toly has consistently raised concerns about the power substation next to the lot. The developer tried to quell those worries at the meeting.

“The radiation, if any, that comes from power lines is this ultra-low frequency,” said Peter Tomai with Specific Performance, Inc. (SPI). In January, the council awarded SPI a professional service contract to help with Homestake.

Tomai said, “there are currently no regulations in the United States or Europe around low frequency.” He also said there isn’t a “real body of expert knowledge” on the issue and added that they will continue to investigate.

“I have a lot of information that completely contradicts what you guys said,” Toly later said, noting that she has researched the topic for more than a year.

“Scientific studies have not clearly shown whether exposure to EMF (electromagnetic fields) increases cancer risk,” the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has said. “A few studies have connected EMF and health effects, but they have not been able to be repeated. This means that they are inconclusive. Scientists continue to conduct research on the issue.”

Toly also criticized the loss of parking the project would create for local businesses. In response, Councilor Max Doilney said, “the idea that we’re trying to save parking for private businesses over there, I’m sorry, but I think that we need affordable housing far more than we need more parking spaces.”

The current proposal lists 75 residential parking spaces, with 15 dedicated to commercial use and 30 delegated underground for public use.

Rubell said he was “struggling with 75 spaces for 120 units.” Doilney endorsed it, emphasizing the city’s walkability goals.

The Homestake lot on Thursday afternoon. (Photo: TownLift)

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