A year in review: Park City business
The opposing tugs of wanting to increase Park City’s high profile status, while maintaining its small-town feel were felt throughout the city this year.
As Deer Valley Resort was sold to a multi-resort entity, the Park City Council decided to cap the number of chain businesses that could establish a home on Main Street. To accompany that, parking changes came about in the historic district, but employees were not pleased. Still, no one can forget the echoing gloom of seeing Outdoor Retailer bid adieu to Salt Lake City, taking with it visitors and the ability of some outdoor shops to attend the national trade show.
The five most important business stories in Park City this year are as follows:
5. Main Street parking changes ruffle employee feathers
Park City Municipal’s attempts to reduce traffic on Main Street included removing free parking from the China Bridge garage and Swede Alley, where many employees working in the historic district park. The city instead designated an employee parking lot on Homestake Road and launched a shuttle to bring employees to and from the Old Town Transit Center. China Bridge and Swede Alley, which were free for years, only charge between 5 p.m. and midnight, affecting mostly employees who work in the evenings. Some businesses are concerned that the paid parking changes might stop employees from taking jobs on Main Street and are considering leaving the shopping district. City officials said that the changes were made to reduce congestion and make Main Street look more appealing to visitors, thus increasing business. As part of the change, parking rates on Main Street also increased.
4. Outdoor Retailer leaves Utah, SIA sells trade show
After threatening to pull the trade show Outdoor Retailer out of Utah earlier this year, the conference announced that it will, in fact, be moving to Denver. The decision was made after major outdoor manufacturers such as Patagonia and The North Face said they would no longer attend the show unless Utah’s elected officials reversed course on public lands issues and stood down in their push to overturn the Obama administration’s decision to create Bears Ears National Monument in southeastern Utah and to reduce the size of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
At the final Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake City this summer, outdoor businesses around the state, including Park City, lamented the change. Some, such as the National Ability Center, said that it is going to cost more to travel to the show, making it almost impossible for some organizations and companies. The business the show brought to the state, more than $40 million in spending dollars, will also be missed.
In May, Snowsports Industries America, which has its headquarters in Park City, announced that it sold its Snow Show to Emerald Expositions, which runs Outdoor Retailer. Nick Sargent, SIA’s president, said the deal allows the nonprofit to dedicate more of its energy toward helping its members and connecting to local organizations.
3. Park City draws line for chain stores on Main Street
City Hall put a cap on the amount of chain stores that are able to open on Main Street. The ordinance was finalized in August in order to ensure the authenticity of the shopping district, which has had several chain stores pop up in recent years. The limit is 17 CCBs (conventional chain businesses) in the Historic Commercial Business Zoning District on Main Street south of Heber Avenue and seven in the Historic Recreation Commercial Zoning District north of Heber Avenue.
At the time of the report, there were four remaining licenses south of Heber Avenue and six north of it. Later, the Norwegian-based company Helly Hansen opened on Main Street and large retailers Athleta and L.L Bean plan to open next year. The decision to implement the cap, came about because of a concern that the influx of chain stores, which are able to keep up with steep rental rates on Main Street, might make it difficult for local mom and pop shops to remain in business. City Hall also decided that convention sales licenses during the Sundance Film Festival or other large events would not be exempt from the ordinance.
2. Park City Film Studios lengthy lawsuit settled
Park City developer Gary Crandall and his two sons, Ryan Crandall and Matthew Crandall, acquired the Park City Film Studios after settling a lawsuit with the project’s developer, Greg Ericksen. The litigation began in 2015 during the construction of the studio. Crandall’s Quinn Capital Partners, LLC became involved in the project in the fall of 2014 when it stepped in to provide financial assistance for the project.
The sides settled in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in September of this year. Following the settlement, Crandall announced that he would be changing the name to Utah Film Studios because of the previous name’s “checkered past.” Ericksen announced that he would keep the Park City Film Studios brand and operate it as a technology company that produces family-friendly content. Currently, the Paramount Network drama series “Yellowstone” is being filmed at the studio. The Crandalls also acquired 25 acres of commercial property adjacent to the studio, where they intend to build a hotel and office space.
1. Deer Valley purchased by multi-resort group
As large ski resort companies continued to gain power and momentum while expanding across the nation, Deer Valley Resort was swept up. On Aug. 21, the resort announced that a newly formed ski company was purchasing the 37-year-old company.
The multi-resort entity, which still does not have an official name, is a conglomerate of the private equity firm KSL Capital Partners, LLC and the private investment group Henry Crown and Company. The resort group also acquired Intrawest Resort Holdings, Inc. and Mammoth Resorts a few weeks prior, and owns Squaw Valley Ski Holdings. With Deer Valley’s addition, the company bumped its list up to 13 resorts with more than seven million skier visits, according to a press release from the resort.
Deer Valley Resort was previously owned by Royal Street Corporation and Red Gables Corporation.
Although Deer Valley Resort owns Solitude Mountain Resort, the Big Cottonwood resort was not included in the transaction.
“I really do think this is an opportunity that will be really good for Deer Valley and everybody involved moving into the future,” said Bob Wheaton, the president and general manager of the resort, at the time. He retained his position under the new ownership.
Vail Resorts, which purchased Park City Mountain Resort in 2015, expanded this year, as well, with its purchase of Whistler Blackcomb in Canada and Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont.
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The Vail Resorts announcement ends months of speculation about the mechanics of the ski season at PCMR.