When Brian Shirken moved to the United States from South Africa in 1983, one of the first things he did was ski Park City. Fast forward 36 years and I’m talking with Shirken from his home in Park City. He’s hosting extended family and they’ve just returned from a big hike up Pinecone Ridge. The weather is shifting into fall and the family is together to enjoy the final spoils of summer.
“Park City has become a place for us to spend quality time with family and friends, and over the years we’ve created really wonderful family traditions and rituals where friends and family gather on a regular basis,” explains Shirken, who says he and his wife, Kirsten, often “have a house full of people.”
Establishing Park City as their home away from home was a long time coming for the Shirkens. Their two kids—Ben and Zoe, now 22 and 20, respectively—learned to ski and board at Canyons Resort. The family regularly visited Park City from their California home base, and in 2008 they took the plunge and built a home, ready to put down some roots.
Building their own home inspired the couple—who collectively have decades of experience in real estate development and design—to acquire land, build and sell homes, and develop projects like The Kimball on Main.
And eventually, it all led back to where the family’s ski history began: Canyons Village.
Brian’s real estate company, Columbus Pacific, developed the ski-in, ski-out Apex Residences, and is now working on the brand-new Pendry Hotel & Residences. Pendry, which broke ground in August 2019 and is set to open for winter 2021, shows off the Shirkens’ first-hand understanding of what visitors to Canyons Village want and need.
“We’ve learned a lot about the visitor experience in Park City over the past 20-plus years; we understand what people are looking for when they come here as well as what’s missing. Most of what we do is rooted in our own experiences,” says Brian. “Pendry is a more contemporary version of a five-star, self-contained village in the way it is designed, activated, and energized by the mountain lifestyle.”
The project is also a family affair. Kirsten is involved in all aspects of design and the duo is putting their soul into the project, which is part of a bigger goal to revitalize Canyons Village. Brian explains that the Canyons Village Master Plan led by TCFC Finance Co., Replay Resorts, and Vail Resorts is focused on “executing the longer-term vision for the Canyons” and that the result will be a more vibrant, community-focused Canyons Village.
When the ski-in, ski-out Pendry Residences open in 2021, the six-floor, three-building contemporary property will not only offer high-end rentals and ownership opportunities, but will also boast a rooftop pool, spa, indoor and outdoor gathering spaces, and a handful of restaurants, bars, and shops.
In addition to their work on Pendry, the Shirkens, who now spend much of their time in Park City, have been working with the Park City Community Foundation to support nonprofits that work on issues relating to the immigrant community, early childhood education, and the environment.
The family’s impact on the community has been persistent and evolving. Many years after that first pivotal 1983 ski trip, the Shirkens find themselves
happily at home in the Wasatch mountains. “It’s been a great evolution for us,” explains Brian. “It’s a return to where we started.”