Park City man envisions housing project on municipal golf course
A man who is vying for a post on the Park City Planning Commission last week indicated City Hall could consider developing housing on part of the Park City Golf Club, an idea that could provide sufficient acreage for a major project but one that would almost certainly immediately become a polarizing issue if such a move is pursued.
Josh Hobson, who unsuccessfully campaigned for a Park City Council seat in 2017 and then was not selected earlier in 2018 to fill a partial City Council term, briefly outlined the housing idea during an interview with Mayor Andy Beerman and the City Council. The interview was part of the Planning Commission selection process.
Hobson told the elected officials land at the municipal golf course is connected to the transit system and a development with so-called tiny houses could be considered. He said the golf course could be reduced from 18 holes to nine holes, explaining that the demand for golf might fall in the future. Hobson also questioned the amount of water needed by a golf course as compared to the water needs of a residential development like the one he envisions.
The mayor and City Councilors did not respond to the idea in any depth. The elected officials at the time were amid a round of interviews of the Planning Commission field rather than a typical City Council discussion about an individual issue or idea.
In an interview afterward, Hobson said the southern portion of the golf course, the part closest to the Park City Mountain Resort parking lots, could be used for a development once the course is reduced to nine holes. He envisions a public-private partnership. A project on the golf course land could push City Hall toward a goal of adding 800 units of restricted housing by 2026, he said.
“It’s already close to the grocery store, transit lines, the resort base,” Hobson said about the land.
Hobson said he crafted the idea during his unsuccessful bid for the City Council in 2017. He did not publicize the idea during the campaign, though. He said there are split opinions. One of his golfing friends said the idea is absurd while another friend who is a golfer said there are other options for players in the area, Hobson said.
Hobson’s decision to broach the topic during an interview for a Planning Commission spot is an intriguing one. The City Council rather than the Planning Commission would be the government body to authorize City Hall staffers to pursue a project. The Planning Commission would be the panel to consider an application, hold hearings and weigh a proposal against the municipal government’s planning and zoning rules.
Any formalized City Hall effort to develop part of the golf course would be expected to immediately trigger resistance in neighborhoods close to the golf course as well as in the wider golfing community. The Park City course has long been praised as one of the best public courses in the state, and it is a popular draw in the summer and fall.
Many people who live in the surrounding neighborhoods would likely be livid with the prospects of development as they worry about increased traffic, impacted views and the potential of falling real estate values as the golf course becomes nine holes rather than the full 18.
Park City leaders are aggressively pursuing a housing program meant to greatly expand the stock of work force or otherwise restricted housing in the city. They are worried the work force has been priced out of what is the state’s most expensive real estate market. Leaders say the housing program provides benefits like reduced commuter traffic and contributes to socioeconomic diversity.
The golf course has been mentioned previously as a prospective location for a housing development with little interest at the time. A City Hall-hired consultant in 2013 drafted a report that pointed to the municipal golf course as it discussed housing options. The report indicated there was enough land on the municipal course for up to 450 homes. The number was based on an average of seven units per acre. The Park City leadership of 2013 did not pursue the consultant’s idea, describing the report’s vision for the golf course and other sections as provocative.
Our view: The somewhat skeptical reaction to the news among residents shows the care the developer must take to ensure the project aligns with Parkites’ vision for the community.