Park City developer takes step to mobilize support for Treasure buyout
A supporter of City Hall’s planned acquisition of Treasure in a conservation deal has scheduled an event next week that is envisioned as an initial step in forming an advocacy group to lobby on behalf of the ballot measure needed to raise the funds to finalize the acquisition.
Rory Murphy is a prominent Park City developer and once served on the Park City Planning Commission during the discussions about the Treasure development proposal. The ballot measure, expected to be set at $50.7 million, would fund most of the $64 million cost of Treasure with City Hall providing the remainder.
The event next week is believed to be the first organized, public gathering centered on the possibility of an advocacy group. It has been expected that such a group would form, but it was not clear what figures or organizations would lead the efforts. There is not known organized opposition to the ballot measure.
Murphy said the event is seen as an informational session. Murphy also said, though, he hopes the people at the gathering use the opportunity to discuss the formation of an advocacy group.
“We got one chance to do this. This is a one-time opportunity,” Murphy said about the possibility of acquiring Treasure in a conservation deal.
Murphy is among the critics of Treasure who see the development proposal as something that would overwhelm surrounding Old Town. The project, approximately 1 million square feet of development, is proposed on a hillside overlooking Old Town along the route of the Town Lift.
The Treasure partnership, consisting of the Sweeney family and a firm called Park City II, LLC, says the project fits as designed while critics argue points like the overall size of the project, the traffic Treasure is anticipated to generate and the excavation that would be required.
The Treasure side spent more than a decade in on-and-off talks with the Planning Commission before the deal was reached for City Hall to acquire the land. The original Treasure approval, though, dates to the 1980s.
Murphy said the event will “get some of the facts out there that I feel are pertinent.” He said he will provide comments alongside unspecified people who have a stake in the outcome of Treasure. Murphy said open space and trails advocates could present information at the event.
“I would like to discuss the process that Treasure has gone though for the past 32 years. The rights that they do have and the impacts the project would create on the city,” Murphy said, mentioning traffic and aesthetics as he lists the impacts he anticipates.
He said the event could address the debate about the Treasure square footage, a topic that has been especially challenging for the Planning Commission. The Treasure side sees the 1980s approval as contemplating the approximately 1 million square feet outlined in the proposal while opponents claim the number soars above what was debated during the discussions decades ago.
Murphy, though, acknowledged the 1980s approval remains intact and involves a significant project.
“The city can’t magically wave a wand and down zone it,” he said, using a term that describes a government process of reducing the prospects of development through a zoning change.
Murphy said opponents of a ballot measure are welcome to attend the event. The gathering is scheduled on Wednesday at 6 p.m. on the roof deck of the 820 Park Ave. development close to the Town Lift. Murphy said the event is expected to last at least an hour.
A critic of a Park City workforce or otherwise affordable housing project in Old Town said he is considering an appeal of the Park City Planning Commission’s approval of the development.