Mayor: counteroffer for Treasure would be ‘fruitless’ |

Mayor: counteroffer for Treasure would be ‘fruitless’

by Jay Hamburger THE PARK RECORD

Real estate negotiations typically go something like this: one side puts a number onto the table, the other side makes a counteroffer and the buyer and seller then attempt to negotiate a price.

That’s not what will apparently happen in the case of the discussions between City Hall and the Treasure partnership about a conservation deal for the partnership’s hillside acreage overlooking Old Town.

Mayor Dana Williams, who is one of City Hall’s negotiators, said in an interview the municipal government is not currently preparing a counteroffer to the Treasure side’s dollar figure. The mayor, a high-ranking real estate agent in the years before the recession, said officials probably will not craft one at all.

"At this point, it’s unlikely City Hall will counter that," the mayor said on Monday, less than a week after officials made public the Treasure partnership’s price tag for the land.

The Treasure side priced a buyout of the land and the attached development rights at just under $93 million, a figure that had been closely guarded until its Dec. 21 release.

City Hall does not have anywhere near that amount of money available for a conservation deal, and a survey has shown that Parkites are unwilling to pass a ballot measure raising that sum through a property-tax increase. Three previous conservation ballot measures Park City voters approved totaled $40 million, or less than half of the Treasure figure.

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He said the Treasure partnership indicated its figure of nearly $93 million is not negotiable at this time.

"Not a typical one," he said as he described the Treasure negotiations in comparison to other real estate deals that involved him. "I definitely don’t think this was a negotiation at all."

The mayor sees the dollar figure, which is higher than many had anticipated, as being a strategic move by the partnership in the event City Hall and the Treasure side did not reach a deal. The mayor said the Treasure side consisting of the Sweeney family and a firm known as Park City II, LLC did not want to make public a price that could jeopardized its bargaining position should there be future negotiations to sell the acreage to another developer.

The mayor said City Hall has made informal offers for the Treasure land over the past 18 months, as the negotiations about a conservation deal were ongoing. None was close to $93 million, he said. Williams said appraisals conducted on behalf of City Hall and the Treasure partnership were far apart in their numbers. Neither of the appraisals has been made public. Williams said there was a difference of more than $10 million between the two, with the one conducted on behalf of the Treasure partnership being the higher one.

"It seems fruitless to try to counter a negotiation when the starting point is so high," the mayor said.

The Sweeney family in the 1980s secured an overall approval for development on the Treasure land and nearby parcels. The Park City Planning Commission and the family deadlocked during their long-running discussions about the Treasure proposal, encompassing upward of 1 million square feet of development, leading to the talks about a conservation agreement.

City Hall said last week it is no longer pursuing a buyout of the development rights given the price tag of nearly $93 million. The sides, though, continue to consider another option that would shift half of the development rights to a spot uphill from the Park City Mountain Resort base area while keeping the rest at the Treasure site itself as part of a redesigned project.