Deer Valley Resort and a small group of other landowners in Wasatch County with a combined hundreds of acres under their control have started discussions about a major expansion of the resort on ground overlooking the Jordanelle Reservoir.
An expansion would involve new ski terrain and a substantial amount of residential development. The land is situated in unincorporated Wasatch County, meaning that county leaders there will review any proposals from Deer Valley and the other landowners. No applications have been filed.
Bob Wheaton, the president and general manager of Deer Valley, said the resort and the other landowners have been in talks over the past year about acreage in the direction of Heber from the base of the Jordanelle Express gondola. It is on the Deer Valley side of U.S. 40. A development application or multiple ones could be filed in Wasatch County by the end of the year, he said.
The talks have involved representatives from what is commonly known as the Mayflower acreage as well as the state's Military Installation Development Authority, a body that facilitates projects on military land. The Mayflower land, running from the bottom of the resort's Mayflower lift toward U.S. 40, has for years been seen as having significant development potential given its location on the edge of Deer Valley.
Wheaton said the parties are considering their own developments but on a coordinated basis. Houses, hotels and condominiums are being discussed, he said. Wheaton said there is the potential of the landowners seeking approval for at least hundreds of units. The expansion of the resort's ski terrain could encompass hundreds of acres ranging from beginner to expert terrain, he said. At least a couple new lifts could be involved, he said.
An expansion into the Wasatch County side of Deer Valley like the one under discussion would significantly bolster the resort's presence to the east. Deer Crest, which extends toward U.S. 40, now serves as the entry to Deer Valley from that side of the resort. A new development, though, would likely offer a more traditional base area than Deer Crest, a gated community.
It would provide easier access to the slopes, meanwhile, for skiers in Wasatch County and some points on the East Side of Summit County. They could avoid entering Park City along S.R. 248, a state highway notorious for its traffic backups during the ski season.
"I think it adds another . . . substantial portal to the resort. It would enhance a skier's access," Wheaton said.
A project would continue the aggressive expansion at Deer Valley since the late 1990s. The resort's terrain now stretches from the base of the Jordanelle Express gondola to the top of the Empire Express lift in Empire Canyon. Empire Pass, anchored by the Montage, is seen as the most prominent while Deer Crest was significant as well.
Deer Valley also has long-held rights to develop the parking lots outside Snow Park Lodge, but a timeline for the project is not known.
Wheaton said Wasatch County leaders have shown a "positive attitude" based on their interest in vitalizing the Jordanelle Reservoir access to Deer Valley.
Doug Smith, the planning director in Wasatch County, said there are three potential Military Installation Development Authority project areas in the vicinity of Deer Valley.