I sat down with my friend Rory Murphy, a prominent Park City developer and former resident of Old Town, to talk about the neighborhood and get filled in on his newest project near the resort, called King’s Crown. Rory loves Old Town and views it as the core of Park City. We agreed there have been significant changes to the numbers and demographics of full time residents there. He concurred, people in their 20’s simply can’t afford to live there anymore like I and many of our friends did when we first moved to town in the 80s. (I rented a duplex on Upper Norfolk for $200/mo before I got married and moved to Park Meadows). Despite the changes Rory feels it always will be the heart of our town. Rory, himself, moved his young family to Prospector a while back, but says “Old Town will always keep a heart beat. People want to live there.” They are drawn by the charm and vibrancy and want to be there to enjoy the ski access and proximity to shops and restaurants. The demand drives up values and inevitably the ratio of locals to visitors shifts. As Rory continues to find exciting projects in Old Town fortunately for Park City he is a local first and feels it is valuable to always be looking for ways to provide housing to the people who need to be here to make our community function.
When I was first getting to know Rory he was lit up about a new project he was involved in at the base of the resort, just above the municipal golf course. His vision was to develop this area but to also restore and preserve the historic mining buildings & structures, create an artist in residency program, and include quality workforce housing. Today The Silver Star Development is a slope-side project with a unique collection of elements. There are ski-in/ski-out town homes, condos, cottages, a small commercial village that includes the resort’s Silver Star Lift, the Silver Star Cafe, the Sundance Institute’s Utah headquarters, an arts program, ski and bike rentals, and at its hub is an intimate plaza. Rory says of the project “Silver Star really ended up being what everyone hoped it would be. There were many sleepless nights but thanks to George Brian’s involvement and dedication to the project we ended up landing that plane.” They did more than land the plane. Rory and his partners, Paladin Development Partners, won an award for their worker housing. In 2008 The Utah Housing Coalition called the Silver Star worker housing the ‘Project of the Year’ in an urban setting. Paladin allocated 20 affordable housing units to the project. Half were sold and half were rented on a seasonal basis. A lottery system was used to pick people to purchase the work force units that were for sale.
Following the success of Silver Star Rory set his sights on a piece of land just below the town lift on Park Ave. 820 Park Ave is the site of the old Rio Grande train depot. The property includes 10 condominium units, 4 commercial spaces, underground parking and direct access to the town lift. Rory’s newest project has him very busy this Spring. In January he and his partners, CRH Partners, LLC, purchased 19.5 acres on the border of the resort to develop a new project called King’s Crown. The parcel is platted for 295 Old Town lots; however their proposed plan eschews what’s allowed in exchange for the opportunity for open space. According to Rory they are dedicating 83% of the land to open space. He prefers developing a fraction of the parcel and preserving the hillside. Rory reports they will be using 45% of the allowable density, providing double the required affordable housing and LMAs will be none. He is visibly excited about King’s Crown’s proximity to Main Street, City Park and the library. “There will be a nice mix of town homes, condos, single family homes and affordable units. I think allowing for a mix of socio-economic groups in a given development is the healthiest thing you can do to promote long term vibrancy in a community. ”
My final question of Rory, will Main Street ever go carless? I ask this because research shows getting people out of cars and walking increases connections and a sense of community. Rory answers matter-of-factly, “no.” And goes on to explain, “it may switch to a one way street, and/or we may eventually see expanded sidewalks. But it just comes down to topography; it’s too steep” Why didn’t I think of that?
Old Town is our most unique and colorful neighborhood. Like many of Park City’s residential neighborhoods it is a mix of primary residents & second homes, but it has a fair number of condos and rental properties mixed in too. Old Town runs from the entrance to Deer Valley down to Main Street and over to the Park City Resort Center including the Silver Star Development. This neighborhood has the smallest lot sizes and the highest value per sq. ft. than any other in Park City. The 2016 average sold price per sq ft at $682 is 80% higher than where it was at the bottom of the market in 2011. The current average is slightly ahead of where the market was right before the economy crash in 2008. 1st quarter statistics are in and 2017 started off well with numbers of transactions, sold volume and average sold price for the first quarter higher than the first quarter in 2016. Click here for end of year Old Town Market Pulse