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PARK CITY OFFICIAL FLAYS PROPOSED CENTER

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A proposed 64,000-square-foot hotel-and-shopping complex approved Wednesday by the City Council will dilute the charm of the town's historic district, says the lone council member who voted against it.

"This just proves to me that technically you can follow every rule in the book and aesthetically still not come out on top," said Leslie Miller, the minority vote in the 4-1 decision.Council members who voted yes said they did so partly out of legal concerns. They said they were also able to extract a promise from the developer that he would work in good faith to scale the project back.

The complex, by Quitting Time Ltd., will cover two square blocks between Main Street and Park Avenue to the east and west, Seventh and Ninth streets to the south and north.

Miller said she was elected on a growth-control mandate violated by approval of the project.

"When you allow something more massive than it needs to be, you're not in my opinion controlling growth . . . maybe I'll be proven wrong, but the legacy of this council will be the town lift. I hope it's right, because it's going to be there a very long time."

Bob Sweeney, president of the family corporation that owns the land, said the company has jumped through various zoning and building-code hoops since plans were first approved in 1985. It lost its final round before the Planning Commission earlier this year on a 4-3 vote. But the 11th-hour appeal to the City Council, as a Jan. 1 contract deadline arrived, put the project back in play.

The site surrounds the epicenter of the resort community's Town Lift improvement area, anchored by a lift to nearby ski slopes. Sweeney said the project will lend the neighborhood some much-needed improvement.

"This area has historically been a hodgepodge of industrial-residential usage," said Sweeney. At the height of Park City's mining heyday, the spot served as the local rail hub, with two train stations and a rail yard. When fire in the early 1980s destroyed a historic mining building that was a major landmark at the site for years, the area was left unoccupied and largely untended.

The project will extend the Park Avenue shopping district two blocks north. In addition to a hotel, plans call for subterranean shops, a ski-service plaza, underground parking and considerable landscaping around the lift.

Bruce Erickson, chairman of the Planning Commission and one of those who voted against the proposal, said opponents were "just concerned about the way it fit into the neighborhood."

Some commissioners wanted the project's height dropped to 35 feet, but the council approved a 45-foot height.

"There's quite a bit of open space to it," said city Planning Director Nora Sellenrich, though she said the design of the largest building, the hotel structure, "will definitely affect the character of the Park Avenue area."

Council member Sally Elliot said the council agreed to the project partly because of commitments the city made years ago to the developer.

"The four of us who voted in favor felt probably it was not legally wise for us to deny the project," she said.

Elliot also said the project will probably bring considerable economic benefit to the downtown area. She noted that the landowners have agreed to leave most of 125 adjacent hillside acres open for trails and green space.