Treasure partnership wants nearly $93 million for buyout | ParkRecord.com

Treasure partnership wants nearly $93 million for buyout

by Jay Hamburger THE PARK RECORD

The Treasure partnership has priced a buyout of the longstanding development rights on the hillside acreage at just under $93 million, a dollar figure that has forced City Hall to abandon the idea of negotiating a conservation deal for the prized land overlooking Old Town.

The partnership — made up of the Sweeney family and a firm known as Park City II, LLC — delivered the number to City Hall on Dec. 12. Officials closely guarded the figure until its Wednesday afternoon release. The release followed a closed-door meeting of the Park City Council last week and a private negotiating session between the two sides this week.

City Hall said in a prepared statement the number is "significantly higher" than the value assigned to Treasure in an appraisal commissioned by the municipal government. Officials have not made that appraisal public.

The statement indicated that the sides reached an "impasse" in the negotiations centered on a conservation deal involving all the Treasure development rights.

The number, set at $92,925,000, was the subject of speculation for some time. Some had envisioned the figure reaching toward the nine digits, as the actual number does, but others had anticipated a lower price.

"They have no interest in the community buying this out. I don’t think there’s any semblance in reality to that price," Mayor Dana Williams, one of City Hall’s negotiators, said.

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City Hall would have needed to ask voters to approve a ballot measure to finance a deal with conservation bonds. Park City voters three times since the 1990s have approved conservation bonds totaling $40 million. The monies from the previous bonds have been spent. The nearly $93 million would have been more than double the combined total of the three earlier ballot measures.

"Are we surprised the city didn’t take it? No, we’re not surprised the city didn’t take it," said Craig Call, an attorney who represents Park City II, LLC in the negotiations.

Call said the Treasure partnership doubted Park City voters would approve a ballot measure financing the buyout of the development rights. He declined to detail the internal discussions that led to the dollar figure.

Mike Sweeney, one of the Sweeney family’s representatives in the negotiations, said the family would not immediately comment on City Hall’s decision to abandon the idea of a complete buyout.

The Sweeney family in the 1980s won a development approval for the Treasure land, which is situated along the route of the Town Lift, as well as nearby parcels. The family, though, encountered neighborhood resistance in recent years as it tried to secure another set of permits needed before Treasure could proceed. The family’s application requested upward of 1 million square feet of development. In the meantime, Park City II, LLC acquired a 50 percent stake in the land from the family.

In publicizing its decision not to pursue a conservation deal, City Hall said a bond valued at $93 million would have cost the owner of a property classified as a primary home $78 per $100,000 of assessed value each year for 15 years. The owner of a primary home valued at $700,000 would have paid $546 each year. The figure would have been roughly double for the owners of vacation homes and commercial properties. A recent City Hall survey found that 17 percent of Parkites were willing to pay $500 or more per year for a Treasure deal.

City Hall and the Treasure partnership have pledged for the time being to continue discussions about redesigning the development with the idea that some of the project would be built at the Treasure site itself and other development rights would be shifted to a spot uphill from the Park City Mountain Resort base area. The sides have agreed to a March 19, 2012 deadline for those discussions.

If there is not a breakthrough, City Hall said, the partnership would probably return to the Planning Commission to restart the talks about the application for the Treasure site involving the approximately 1 million square feet. The application is still pending. The gap in the Planning Commission talks has lasted since the spring of 2010.

The Planning Commission and people who live close to the site were deeply concerned about issues like traffic and the size of the proposed Treasure buildings. It appeared the Planning Commission might have been preparing to vote down the application. The Planning Commission review was put on hold to allow the discussions about a conservation deal.

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