A crowd greets Treasure | ParkRecord.com

A crowd greets Treasure

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

The Sweeney family on Wednesday night unveiled its revamped plans for the slopeside Treasure development, drawing a substantial crowd to a Park City Planning Commission meeting as it restarted long-dormant talks about the polarizing project.

The panel was not scheduled to make significant decisions about Treasure on Wednesday night, and Planning Commissioners did not take testimony. Instead the family and members of the Planning Commission held a short round of discussions.

The next meeting is tentatively scheduled on Feb. 11. The Planning Commission indicated it wants to visit the site, which sits just off the Lowell Avenue-Empire Avenue turnaround, and members considered whether they want to hold a meeting later exclusively to talk about Treasure.

The Wednesday meeting packed the room at the Park City Library and Education Center, with approximately 50 people in attendance. The crowd was substantial compared to a typical Planning Commission meeting in recent months, and there was talk about moving the next meeting to a bigger room.

A public hearing was tentatively set for Feb. 11. If one is held that date, it would be the first since 2006. The talks between the Sweeneys and the Planning Commission stalled at that point, after a series of meetings that left the family needing to revisit its plans.

The Planning Commission on Wednesday heard a timeline of the Treasure concept, which dates to an overall 1986 City Hall approval of development on Sweeney-held land, talked about work force housing and touched on the proximity of the Treasure land to neighbors.

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The panel spent one hour on Treasure, and members appeared to make limited headway. Only two of the seven Planning Commissioners were serving during the last round of meetings, meaning Wednesday was the first time the majority of the panel members had been presented with Treasure.

Two members of the Park City Council — Roger Harlan and Liza Simpson — attended. The City Council is not involved in the discussions, but it seems there is a reasonable chance Treasure will ultimately be decided by the elected officials, either through an appeal of a Planning Commission decision or through a rarely used procedural move that allows the City Council to make its own decision after the lower panel makes one.

The Sweeneys want to put up approximately 200 hotel rooms and 100 condominiums on the slopes of Park City Mountain Resort. Another 19,000 square feet of commercial and meeting space is planned. The project would spread through 12 buildings. It would be placed into two development sites, Creole Gulch and land known as the Mid-station parcel. The sites are immediately west of Old Town. Most of the land in the Treasure site would remain undeveloped.

Computer-generated images made for the family show the project stretching through part of the hillside immediately west of the Town Bridge. The Treasure buildings would be visible from numerous vantages.

The Planning Commissioners reviewed ideas for the work force housing that the Sweeneys want to build, and there appeared to be initial agreement among them that the bulk of the worker housing should be situated on the Treasure grounds.

"This is a perfect site for affordable housing," said Rory Murphy, a Planning Commissioner who built work force housing in a prime location in his Silver Star development, adding that it is "absolutely imperative" for the housing to be within Treasure.

The Sweeneys envision placing some work force housing at the Treasure site as well as paying into a City Hall housing fund.

Wednesday’s meeting was a precursor to what is expected to be a series of highly charged hearings. The Planning Commission held well attended hearings during the earlier talks.

People who live on streets like Empire Avenue and Lowell Avenue have long been frustrated with the prospects of more traffic on those roads, and there has been concern about construction and how the project will look.

A group of them monitored the Planning Commission on Wednesday. Some of the neighbors have formed a group called the Treasure Hill Impact Neighborhood Coalition. The leader of the group has said approximately 200 people are affiliated with the coalition.

Meanwhile, the Sweeneys, who have ties to Main Street, could rally the street to support Treasure during upcoming hearings with testimony about the potential of increased business from the project.