Developers wanted Marsac Building for hotel
A Park City official said Thursday night developers were recently interested in negotiating a deal with City Hall to turn the Marsac Building into a hotel, an extraordinary acknowledgment coming just weeks before crews are expected to start a major renovation of the municipal building.
Park City Councilman Joe Kernan, who has long questioned whether renovating the Depression-era Old Town building is useful, mentioned the developer’s interest in the building during a lengthy meeting. He said the developer also wanted nearby municipal property as part of a deal. City officials had not previously publicized the overtures. The other City Councilors indicated they want to proceed with the renovation, however, leaving Kernan without the support he needed to pursue a deal with the developer.
In an interview afterward, Kernan said Mike Sweeney, whose family has well-placed land holdings in Park City, had approached him midwinter about a deal for the Marsac Building. The Sweeney family developed some of the land at the base of the Town Lift and is in talks with City Hall to build Treasure Hill, a project slated for the slopes of Park City Mountain Resort.
It was unclear if Sweeney was acting on behalf of his family or another developer. Sweeney, who attended the Thursday meeting, declined to comment about the situation with the Marsac Building.
A deal between City Hall and a developer for the Marsac Building would have been a politically charged affair closely watched by Park City’s influential preservation community, Old Town residents and the real estate industry.
The building occupies a commanding hillside location just east of Main Street and Swede Alley. It is across two-lane Marsac Avenue from a row of houses. It was built as a schoolhouse and was later renovated into the municipal offices.
City Hall staffers in the last few weeks moved out of the Marsac Building for the renovation. Officials plan to make the building safer if an earthquake strikes, upgrade the technology and make it more functional for staffers and the public. It will also be upgraded for handicapped people.
The renovation and associated costs like moving staffers to temporary quarters are priced at $7.4 million, up from the $4.75 million City Hall expected to spend a few years ago. Officials say the original number was fluid, and the estimate increased as the scope of the work expanded.
City Councilors on May 29 are scheduled to consider a contract for the construction, with City Manager Tom Bakaly estimating it will be a $5.3 million deal. Jacobsen Construction, a Salt Lake City firm, is expected to win the contract.
The development prospects of the Marsac Building have not been widely discussed publicly, but the building and the land surrounding it would be attractive to builders. The closeness to Main Street and the Town Lift would make the site marketable to Parkites and people buying vacation homes.
"It sits up above the town and has some of the best views in Old Town," Kernan said in an interview, describing that the Marsac Building also provides easy access to Main Street and the Old Town transit center.
According to Kernan’s calculations, City Hall could reap between $10 million and $15 million in cash and civic upgrades by selling the Marsac Building to a developer and securing other inducements in a deal. Those include having the developer put up a new municipal building, construct a long-desired town plaza and better connect Main Street and Swede Alley for pedestrians.
"Land is so valuable in the center of town. We could get a developer to provide all these things," he said.
Two people indicated in interviews they are considering mounting campaigns for the Park City Council, a signal the City Hall election could attract an intriguing slate of candidates in a year when the majority of the five seats are on the ballot.