Park City proposes Main Street chain store ban

PARK CITY, Utah -- It’s quaint, it draws in a lot of tourism to Utah and it’s historic. All those things bundled into one, and you’ve got Park City. It's that authenticity city leaders are working to protect in the form of an ordinance that would ban chain retailers from opening shop on Historic Main Street.

“The historic district is the key component to having economic diversity and vibrancy on Main Street,” said Park City Planning Director Bruce Erickson.

For years, city leaders have talked about getting involved in the free market. After several chain stores have moved in, in recent years, they said now is the time.

“Authenticity and setting us apart from other towns is something really important to us. Our historic district is something that’s very important to us. And with the proliferation of chains coming into town, we’ve seemed to have lost some of that character, some of who we are,” said Economic Development Manager Jonathon Weidenhamer.

Local Kerry Broderick agreed.

“I think that’s a great idea. I think bringing in a lot of the chains kinds of ruins a lot of kind of just the community and small town feel that I think all of us who live in Park City full time, that’s why we’re here," Broderick said.

Broderick moved to Park City five years ago and has been working at a local business, Atticus Coffee, Teashop, and Books for three years. She said it's the charm of the historic district that keeps bringing people - locals and tourists - back. She said that's something chain stores lack, but admitted it's "nice to have a Lulu[lemon] up the street to get a yoga mat."

Weidenhamer said the general consensus is: "We like the mix now. It hasn't passed the tipping point yet."

They still need to flesh out the details, but the overall goal is to preserve historic buildings, support local business, and promote community. A few things could happen with this ordinance. There could be a complete ban on chains, there could be a capping number of store fronts on the street or cap the total linear feet of chains. City leaders could limit the ban to one-half of Main Street, perhaps above Heber Avenue. The ordinance could also apply only to street level store fronts and not include second stories. The existing 18 chains would be considered legal, non-conforming uses, allowed to stay.

The ordinance could be implemented in the next 30 to 60 days.