The long-running negotiations between City Hall and the Treasure partnership have collapsed, the two sides said this week, almost certainly ending the prospects of an agreement that would shift half of the development rights attached to the high-profile Old Town hillside to another location.
The negotiations had stretched from the spring of 2010 and involved a City Hall team of elected officials and staffers as well as representatives of the Sweeney family and their partner in the Treasure acreage. The talks, held in closed-door meetings, focused on the idea of moving half of the development rights on the Treasure land to a location determined to be better suited for growth. A few sites were considered.
The Treasure land is situated on a hillside overlooking Old Town along the route of the Town Lift. The Sweeney family in the 1980s secured development rights for the Treasure land and nearby parcels. The other parcels were developed over the years, but the bulk of the rights are attached to the Treasure acreage itself.
The Sweeney family in 2004 started its talks with City Hall about Treasure but made little progress with the Park City Planning Commission. There were concerns about the size of the project and the traffic it would attract, among other worries. There was also public opposition, particularly from people who lived on streets like Lowell Avenue and Empire Avenue. It appeared the Planning Commission was preparing to eventually cast a vote against the project, which is envisioned as approximately 1 million square feet of residential and commercial space.
The mayor at the time, Dana Williams, and the City Councilors who were in office in 2010 made an unorthodox move in an effort to break the logjam. The elected officials agreed to remove themselves as the body that would hear an expected appeal of the Planning Commission Treasure vote, regardless of whether the lower panel approved or rejected the project. Doing so allowed the elected officials to launch the negotiations about a shift of part of the Treasure development rights. Those negotiations are the ones that recently ended without an agreement.
Liza Simpson, a City Councilor who was one of City Hall's negotiators, said the Treasure negotiations ended on March 19 with a phone call from the Sweeney family to City Manager Diane Foster. The planning manager at City Hall, Kayla Sintz, that day sent the Treasure side a letter indicating there must be movement on the development application within 14 days or it would be evaluated for "inactivity." If an application is deemed inactive, a developer must restart the planning process with City Hall.
"We had high hopes we could come to a resolution," Simpson said on Wednesday, calling the collapse disappointing.
Ed Sweeney, who represents the family, said on Thursday morning the Treasure side has responded to the letter from Sintz. A meeting was scheduled to take place later on Thursday between the Treasure side and City Hall staffers to discuss next steps, Sweeney said.
"We tried our darnedest to look at alternatives and would it work," Sweeney said about the negotiations centered on a shift of some of the development rights.
Sweeney said the Treasure partnership intends to return to the Planning Commission with the same development application that was criticized earlier. He said an approval will be pursued "aggressively."
"We can't just sit back and do nothing," Sweeney said.