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Military hopes to locate hotel at The Canyons

Going on vacation can take a bite out of the pocketbooks of many military families, so Pentagon officials have pushed to build hotels to offer discounts to soldiers.

If a complex agreement is signed by Park City, Summit County and the state Military Installation Development Authority, military men and women may soon be vacationing at The Canyons, skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking or hiking at the largest ski area in Utah.

"What this does, is it gives the lower echelons $50-per-night rooms," Park City Mayor Dana Williams said.

Utah’s Military Installation Development Authority this week took a major step toward developing a resort for the Air Force in the Park City area. The Military Installation Development Authority is a state agency charged with helping facilitate development on military lands.

A proposed memorandum of understanding between MIDA, Park City and Summit County provides the framework for Air Force officials to develop a hotel and commercial development on the Wasatch Back.

The project has been discussed for about 13 years, Williams said.

"In the course of those discussions, the size of this hotel kept growing over the years," Williams said. "It would have been bigger than anything we have around here."

Some of those rooms would have been rented to the public to help cover the costs of giving soldiers lodging discounts.

However, the latest plan would use tax revenue generated at a new commercial center in Silver Creek to help offset the costs of subsidizing room rates for the armed forces. MIDA expects to help arrange a purchase of a parcel in Silver Creek, which is currently jointly owned by Park City and Summit County.

With a large retailer as an anchor tenant, MIDA could afford to build a smaller hotel, which pleases local officials.

Williams did not comment about which retailers might occupy the space in Silver Creek. The land would be purchased for about $70,000 per acre, according to a report from City Hall

MIDA, for about 25 years, would then receive roughly 80 percent of the property tax increment from the commercial project to help fund the military hotel in a separate location. MIDA and Summit County would also share resort sales tax revenue the commercial center generates, according to the report.

"We are comfortable with what the tax ramifications are," Williams said.

In a meeting Tuesday, MIDA board members approved the memorandum of understanding. Members of the Park City Council are scheduled to discuss the agreement at their Thursday meeting.

"It puts commercial development in an area that already has existing commercial and puts the hotel in an area that is appropriate for resort bed base," Williams said.

Without the agreement, the builder for the military would not be required to comply with local planning ordinances.

"MIDA usurps local planning and zoning at both the city and county level," Williams said.

However, in the memorandum of understanding, MIDA agrees to consider local ordinances when designing the project.

A site at The Canyons is the military’s first choice for the hotel, Williams said.

Other locations the Air Force considered included Quinn’s Junction and near Jordanelle State Park.

Park City Councilwoman Candy Erickson said she has been in discussions with the Air Force about the hotel for nearly a decade.

"Off and on since 2002, this has been something that has been on my plate every year," Erickson said.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, MIDA also selected developer John Liljenquist in Salt Lake County, as the builder of the commercial project, according to Stuart Adams, chairman of the MIDA board.

The agreement limits MIDA to building not more than 1.25 million square feet of commercial development in Silver Creek, Adams explained.

"We could have put in a ton of commercial," Adams said.

Adams did not comment on Tuesday about specific companies that might occupy the commercial center.

"We’ve tried to work amicably with the local jurisdictions, with the city and the county. They have been very fair," Adams said in a telephone interview. "I think it’s an exciting time. I think it accomplishes what the city and county wanted to have."

The memorandum of understanding also provides an option for MIDA to work with property owners at Quinn’s Junction to effectuate the transfer of about 29 acres of land to Park City. The state agency may also assist Park City in purchasing the Red Maple parcel in Park City to preserve as open space.


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