National Ability Center moves forward with its bigger and improved McGrath Family Mountain Center

A Nexus Architecture rendering of the McGrath Family Mountain Center at Park City Mountain Resort shows an expanded, two-story structure that will provide more working space for NAC instructors, staff and participants.
Courtesy of Nexus Architecture

National Ability Center’s dream of building a bigger McGrath Family Mountain Center at the base of Park City Mountain Resort is coming true.

After working out of a 2,000-square-foot double-wide trailer for nearly 25 years, the outdoor recreation nonprofit’s instructors, competitive teams and staff may have some elbow room to the tune of 9,400-square feet by the start of the 2023 winter season if all goes well, said Danny Glasser, NAC executive director.

The plan is to break ground on the two-story facility in May or June, he said.



That will depend on whether or not the Park City Planning Commission approves the project, said Meeche White, NAC co-founder and facility development manager.

“We will go in front of them on April 27, and we hope to get approval,” she said. “In the meantime, I’m busy filling out building applications that we can submit after we get completed drawings,” she said. “We have to get through all that and breaking ground.”



While the NAC awaits approval from the planning commission, it already has the green light from Park City Mountain Resort.

“We are proud to be a long-time partner of the National Ability Center and are thrilled to support the construction of their new McGrath Family Mountain Center at the base of Park City Mountain,” said Mike Goar, vice president and chief operating officer at Park City Mountain in a statement to the Park Record. “The NAC has been providing incredible services to the Park City and visiting community for nearly four decades, and the construction of the Mountain Center will enable them to expand their world-class adaptive ski and snowboard programs for years to come. We’re excited to see the new center come to life at the base of the resort as the NAC continues to empower individuals of all ages and abilities with life-changing programming.”

The new facility is designed by Architectural Nexus and was first proposed in 2016, the year Vail took ownership of Park City Mountain Resort from Powdr Corp, according to White.

The project was put in limbo during the transition until now, she said.

“One of the big roadblocks was the easement agreement,” White said. “There were a lot of easements that needed to be cleared up before we could move forward. We are grateful to Vail for giving us the space to build the building.”

Things have changed since the proposal, and the building’s interior needed to be revitalized, according to White.

“We went over it with a fine tooth comb with a ski and snowboard management team to evaluate how it could serve our needs better,” she said. “We now have a break room where instructors and athletes can eat their lunches, something they didn’t have before.”

In addition to those amenities, the McGrath Family Mountain Center will include improved “ski-in, ski-out” accessibility for those utilizing adaptive equipment, upper and lower-level lobbies, a sensory room and an adaptive athlete locker room, Glasser said.

“I think it’s going to allow our instructors, participants and volunteers to have a much more liveable space to work in,” he said. “It will also be a flag on the hill, and people are going to see what we do.”

The current structure was built in 1998, White said.

“It was a challenging thing, because I had 45 days to get a building permit from the city, get the building manufactured and get everything moved in,” she said. “I got the building permit the same day the building was delivered.”

Although the NAC has used the double-wide for nearly 25 years, it was originally supposed to be a temporary building, White said.

“We were only going to have it for three years, because the trailers aren’t permitted in the city,” she said with a laugh. “So everybody has had a pretty big chuckle at how it has endured through the years as a temporary building.”

In addition to getting the planning commission’s approval, another challenge is fundraising, Glasser said.

“This is part of our (“I Can”) capital campaign that we started in 2015, and, as you can imagine, costs have gone up since that time,” he said.

The goal now is to raise $2 million, Glasser said.

“We have raised about $500,000 thus far, and that $2 million is the gap difference of the building commitments in the capital campaign that has depreciated,” he said.

White is confident they will reach the goal.

“We have already had people who have stepped up, and there are others who have given in-kind donations,” she said. “We just need to keep moving forward. We’ll do our best to make it happen as fast as it can, but we ultimately want to have a nice quality building.”

Those who want to donate can do so by visiting discovernac.org or by calling 435-649-3991, Glasser said.

“We also have naming rights available in and around the building,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a profound thing for the community, and donors will recognize their gifts are being used well.”

Glasser is also grateful to White, who has followed this project since day one.

“Having Meeche lead this effort is the right thing to do,” he said. “That tenacity and persistence is exactly what we need to move this forward. The work Meeche has done pushing the boulder forward is greatly appreciated.”

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