Landowner ‘keenly aware’ of Park City’s interest in Bonanza Flats
November 11, 2016
Park City voters on Tuesday overwhelming approved a $25 million ballot measure meant to fund the acquisition of Bonanza Flats, a high-altitude swath of undeveloped land in Wasatch County, according to preliminary results on Election Day.
The ballot measure passed with 70.2 percent of the votes. City Hall put the question to voters to secure a funding source for an acquisition of Bonanza Flats in a conservation deal, if one is negotiated. If a deal is not reached, City Hall would not issue the $25 million in bonds.
Bonanza Flats, which is downhill from Guardsman Pass, covers approximately 1,400 acres and is a popular place for recreation lovers.
If City Hall issues the bonds, officials have estimated, someone owning a primary residence valued at $810,000 would pay $122.67 more in property taxes annually while a person who owns a vacation home or a commercial property with an $810,000 value would pay $223.05 more each year. The bond would be paid off over 15 years.
Bonanza Flats is owned by a firm under the umbrella of Wells Fargo and Midtown Acquisitions, the lenders that brought a foreclosure case against the Talisker corporate family that involved a series of parcels of land in the greater Park City region, including Bonanza Flats.
Park City leaders have long had an interest in keeping Bonanza Flats as open space, but it is also seen as being attractive to developers. It was a bargaining chip in the 1990s as Park City and United Park City Mines, then the landowner, negotiated an agreement that led to the development known as Empire Pass.
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There was a time when the landowner was willing to set aside Bonanza Flats as open space as part of the Empire Pass negotiations, but the agreement eventually allowed a project there. City Hall secured a cap of 260 units in Bonanza Flats in the Empire Pass development deal. Bonanza Flats was envisioned as a golf-and-ski development, but a project has never advanced there.
The $25 million ballot measure was passed with the understanding that an agreement has not been negotiated to acquire Bonanza Flats. City Hall has consistently indicated it is not known whether the land will be made available to the municipal government in a conservation deal. There has also been talk that a development firm is also interested in acquiring the land and has started negotiations.
Mayor Jack Thomas said in an interview the passage of the ballot measure gives City Hall the ability to attempt to acquire Bonanza Flats if it is made available in a conservation deal. He said officials will monitor the situation as the landowner, called Redus, LLC, considers the future of Bonanza Flats. He said the firm is "keenly aware" that the ballot measure passed. He cautioned, though, that City Hall does not intend to interfere with any talks between Redus, LLC and another firm.
"We're not going to get in the way of any negotiations they might be involved in," Thomas said.