Groundbreaking cements a ‘new product’ for real estate
Wednesday’s groundbreaking celebration at the corner of Heber Avenue and Main Street marked the official beginning of The Sky Lodge’s construction, a project which some estimate could be one of Old Town’s largest developments in recent years.
Park City Manager Tom Bakaly, who participated in the event, predicted the proposed six-story "ultra luxury" condominium hotel would be one of the last projects of its size to be built in the area. "It was a long time in the works," he said of the new project.
The Sky Lodge’s only rival in size and scope is Marriott’s Summit Watch, Bakaly said, but the task for The Sky Lodge’s developer, Bill Shoaf, has a higher degree of difficulty in terms of construction, given Sky Lodge developers will need to protect several historic structures in the area.
Bakaly identified three historic structures on the lot, including Zoom restaurant’s building, originally an old railroad depot, Easy Street Brasserie, formerly a coal and lumber station and the smaller structure between the two buildings which has been identified as a historic tack shed that has most recently been annexed for Easy Street’s Salon Rouge.
Shoaf says in the past five years he has revised plans for The Sky Lodge three times. The city approved plans for The Sky Lodge after Shoaf agreed to "step the building back" from the historic structures, Bakaly said. The project plans call for 40 percent open space, a public plaza and walkway.
A recent press release from Sky Lodge states developers project the transient occupancy taxes and sales taxes generated by The Sky Lodge during its first five years of operation will total $3.9 million.
With the exception of the tack shed, which will be moved and transformed into a Japanese-inspired spa, and an expanded kitchen for Zoom, structures with historic significance will remain intact, Shoaf confirms. In the meantime, Zoom plans to remain closed until the winter season, and Easy Street has become the sales center for The Sky Lodge until the project is completed in fall, 2007.
By June, Jacobsen Construction Company Inc. crews will employ a crane that Shoaf reports is the largest in the state to ensure the project stays on schedule. The crane will help to construct the 56-space underground parking lot and assemble pre-cast concrete floors and steel manufactured in Salt Lake, he says.
Construction of the building alone will cost $30 million, he says, and within the budget promised to the owners who have already purchased over 50 percent of the 176 fractional ownership interests in the project. One of the interests for the penthouse sold for $2,000 per square foot, he says, noting it to be a price "that puts Park City on par with Aspen" in terms of real estate.
In part, the appeal to buyers has been the opportunity to own a fractional interest in a condominium property, with the luxury of hotel amenities and the ability to rent the property for any of the five weeks they own, according to Shoaf.
"This is a new product," he explained. "This is an ultra-luxury fractional ownership product called ‘Resortclub.’ What’s different isn’t how we divided it, but how we run it. Old models didn’t have hotel services or the ability to get rental income We’re going to let owners rent their units and give them to relatives just as they would if they owned any condo anywhere."
The sales center features a model of The Sky Lodge and swatches of fabrics for the 22 two-and three-bedroom units, and the penthouse, which spans the entire top of the building, showcasing what Sky Lodge’s interior designer, Nola Chase calls The Sky Lodge’s unique loft style.
"It’s as if you took a New York loft and moved it to Park City and changed the colors and textures to match the Rocky Mountains," she explained.
Teri Orr, the executive director of the Park City Performing Arts Foundation, joined Bakaly and Shoaf in the groundbreaking, in recognition of the contributions The Sky Lodge plans to make to her organization.
Last August, the Sky Lodge announced a donation to the Foundation of more than $500,000 in the first five years of The Sky Lodge’s operations.
"For every unit they sell, they’ll give us $1,000 to The Performing Arts Foundation," Orr explained. "These are people who know hospitality and we’re flattered to be partners with them We see this as an on-going relationship."
Shoaf, managing director of CloudNine ResortClubs and a graduate of Cornell University, School of Hotel Administration, says the idea behind the partnership was to make the project an active participant in its surrounding community.
"We believe The Sky Lodge needs to be more than a building with folks in it and do more than just sit here and make money," he said.
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Another ski season is in the books, and much to the relief of the restaurant industry, the outlook, like the weather, is looking sunny.