Major development idea, tied to military talks, unveiled for U.S. 40 land | ParkRecord.com

Major development idea, tied to military talks, unveiled for U.S. 40 land

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

Blueprints for a major development along U.S. 40 have turned up on an Internet site promoting what has been dubbed The Summit at Park City, a hub that appears to be the long-anticipated commercial district that could help finance a hotel offering military discounts in the area.

The website positions the development on a triangular piece of land abutting U.S. 40 midway between Quinn’s Junction and Silver Creek Junction. City Hall and Summit County jointly own the land.

Promotional material on the website indicates the developers want to put up approximately 1.2 million square feet of retail space on 112 acres of land. The website envisions a combination of stores, restaurants and entertainment options at the site.

The Air Force for years has sought a location in or close to Park City as a replacement for the hotel it lost at Snowbasin in the years leading up to the 2002 Winter Olympics. There have been various sites considered in the Park City area, and the project has grown in its ambition in recent years from a hotel to a wider commercial development like the one envisioned as The Summit at Park City.

The talks have taken on greater urgency with the entry of the Military Installation Development Authority, sometimes known as the acronym MIDA, an entity formed to make it easier for a development like The Summit at Park City to move forward.

The website says "both Park City and Summit County will work in conjunction with the developer and MIDA." A blueprint on the website shows the square footage spread between a series of buildings, with the largest pegged at 160,000 square feet. Building labels include a hotel, "large format," which appears to identify a big retailer, and "resort." The blueprint also shows what has been labeled as an "Olympic Center" and a theater.

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It is not clear whether the hotel on the blueprints would be designed to offer the military discounts. Some of the recent talks have leaned toward building the hotel elsewhere, likely close to the Jordanelle Reservoir, while using tax revenues from the commercial district to subsidize lower rates at the hotel for the military family.

Coldwell Banker Commercial real estate in Salt Lake City is listed on the website as the contact for the project. Stuart Thain, a commercial agent named on the site, did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment.

The website had not been widely publicized until this week.

A longtime figure in Park City’s commercial real estate industry on Thursday night told Mayor Dana Williams and the Park City Council the project could be an "incredibly harmful development."

Jan Wilking, who is with the Commerce Real Estate Solutions firm, warned the elected officials a project like the one described would create too much commercial square footage, leading to an oversupply in the segment and then a fall in prices.

He also charged that a development would siphon sales-tax revenues out of Park City and hurt business on Main Street. He said there would be a "stigma" attached to the project as he claimed the process provided "special benefits to certain people" and should have been transparent. Wilking called for additional opportunities for people to provide their opinions.

The appearance had not been scheduled beforehand. Wilking spoke with urgency, an indication that he foresees there could soon be movement in the discussions. Wilking said the development could be split between smaller parcels of land elsewhere in the state.

"Why does Summit County have to have all of this impact," Wilking said.

The mayor told Wilking the City Council agrees with many of the points he touched on Thursday night. The mayor, though, implied a compromise was necessary in order to protect the entryway. The mayor did not provide details.

The military has long offered lower-priced vacation options for service members across the globe and wants one available in the Utah ski country. Local leaders, though, have desired the military select a spot they see as more appropriate, perhaps at one of the mountain resorts.

In an interview, Park City Manager Tom Bakaly said some of the blueprints on the website are outdated. He said a hotel is not under consideration at the site, as an example. Bakaly said the triangular parcel of land could be sold to the Military Installation Development Authority for a commercial development, something that has been publicly contemplated for a year.

Bakaly said the commercial square footage at the site would be built as a means to fund lodging options elsewhere in the Park City area for the military members.

The Summit at Park City’s website is at http://www.summitatparkcity.com.

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