Sweeneys retool Treasure Hill
July 11, 2008
The Sweeney family, more than four years after beginning what was a grueling first set of talks with City Hall about its Treasure Hill development, in June submitted new blueprints for the project on the slopes of Park City Mountain Resort.
In doing so, the Sweeneys are attempting to convince the local government that Treasure Hill adheres to a longstanding agreement between the Sweeneys and City Hall allowing the family to develop a prime hillside just west of Old Town. The previous talks stalled in 2006, with the local government sending the Sweeneys away to draft the new blueprints.
The submittal foreshadows another set of hearings that will likely again pit the Sweeneys against people who live on streets like Empire Avenue and Lowell Avenue. The neighbors were dismayed with the prospects of Treasure Hill being built nearby, with complaints that the project would draw too much traffic to surrounding streets and it would loom over the historic district.
Officials expect hearings could restart in front of the Planning Commission by early fall. Pat Sweeney, who represents his family, says the construction of the infrastructure for Treasure Hill could begin as early as the 2009 building season, depending on Planning Commission decisions.
"Nothing’s changed. Everything is taken to a new level," Sweeney says, describing that the new Treasure Hill plans reflect the same amount of construction as the previous ones but provide more details than the older submittals.
Some key points in the new submittal include:
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Designs that resemble both the historic buildings in Old Town and newer ones in the neighborhood. Sweeney says buildings closest to neighbors will feature architecture that mimics the older houses. The Treasure Hill buildings nearer the center of the development, he says, will look like the Sky Lodge and Caledonian, two of the Main Street district’s largest buildings. Sweeney says he prefers that look in the location to the rustic architecture of Deer Valley.
"I’m happy with it, that’s for dang sure. I’m happy with the newer architecture in Old Town," Sweeney says.
A project that stretches through about 13 buildings, with the largest of them seen as a 200-room hotel offering a spa and conference space. Sweeney says the hotel would be built in the northwest section of Treasure Hill, off Lowell Avenue. It would climb to as tall as 10 stories. Sweeney says the building, though, would be put up in a hollow. Its location, he says, will soften the building’s effect on the view of the hillside.
"It’s one big complex, if you will, of tight, nestled buildings with ski runs," he says.
Sweeney says his family is talking with a "high-end" hotelier to open in Treasure Hill, but he declines to identify the company. He says a deal has not been finalized with the hotelier.
Treasure Hill is split between two sites, known as Creole Gulch and the midstation, a reference to the midpoint of PCMR’s dismantled gondola. Most of the development would be put in Creole Gulch, which is off Lowell Avenue near the Empire Avenue turnaround.
A transit system within the project that relies partly on a stand-up gondola, also known as a cabriolet, and a new ski lift. A people mover known as a funicular would also be constructed to transport people at Treasure Hill.
The cabriolet would run a 30-second route between the Town Lift base and Treasure Hill.
People would disembark the cabriolet on the Treasure Hill side close to what is planned as a new ski lift replacing the Town Lift. Sweeney says the four-passenger, high-speed lift would have its top terminal at the top of the PayDay lift.
Meanwhile, the Sweeneys pledge to make the stretch of Lowell Avenue between Treasure Hill and the Marriott Mountainside at PCMR safer for pedestrians, including possibly building a sidewalk on the uphill side of that section of Lowell Avenue.
A plan for work force housing that calls for a dormitory for seasonal workers at Treasure Hill. It would be a 4,200-square-foot building. Sweeney says his side would also make a cash contribution to City Hall’s work force housing fund. He says it appears the contribution would be between $2 million and $3 million, but a figure has not been finalized.
In the previous Treasure Hill talks, a dispute unfolded between the Sweeneys and City Hall regarding whether the project fell under the local government’s work force housing regulations, which require large developers build units restricted to regular workers who qualify through their incomes.
The overall City Hall approval for Treasure Hill dates to 1986. That agreement allows the Sweeneys to develop the project, but the Planning Commission must endorse the designs.
The 1986 accord also included what was built as the Caledonian, the commercial property at the base of the Town Lift and several nearby houses. It envisioned the Town Lift and the Town Bridge skier span above Park Avenue as well.