Park City projects Treasure rights could fetch millions |

Park City projects Treasure rights could fetch millions

Park City wants to acquire the Treasure land on a hillside overlooking Old Town in a $64 million deal that would block a controversial development, shown in a computer-generated image. City Hall would control the long-standing development rights attached to the land if the deal is finalized. Some of the rights could be transferred elsewhere if the municipal government acquires the land, a scenario that City Hall says could potentially generate between $3 million and $10 million.

Park City officials project the municipal government could potentially generate up to $10 million if City Hall acquires the Treasure acreage and then reaches separate agreements with other property owners to transfer some of the development rights long attached to the land.

The possibility that City Hall itself could employ a municipal program allowing development rights attached to certain parcels to be shifted onto other land should it acquire Treasure had not been publicized until late January. It is not clear whether Mayor Andy Beerman and the Park City Council would pursue some sort of shift of development rights if the acquisition is finalized, but the statement about a dollar range was intriguing nonetheless.

The issue was briefly addressed at a Tuesday evening informational session at the Park City Municipal Athletic & Recreation Center focused on City Hall's agreement to acquire the Treasure land for $64 million. It would be the most expensive acquisition in City Hall's long-running open space program and require a ballot measure to raise approximately $50 million of the total. Leaders scheduled three informational sessions in quick succession meant to explain the agreement.

The mayor said it is estimated the development rights attached to the Treasure land that are included in the municipal program could generate between $3 million and $10 million.

Only approximately 10 percent of the Treasure development rights are included in the program. The program, known as a transfer of development rights, or TDR, can be altered later to include a larger percentage of the rights. City Hall created the program during an earlier round of Treasure discussions. The program was not created exclusively for the Treasure possibilities, but the project has been seen as the primary motivation.

Beerman acknowledged the prospects of City Hall transferring the Treasure development rights after an acquisition would be controversial since such a process would involve shifting development from one place to another. City Hall created so-called sending zones, where development rights could be shifted from, and receiving zones, where the rights could be shifted toward.

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In a move that provides additional intrigue, City Hall intends to acquire the Bonanza Park acreage off Bonanza Drive and Park Avenue. Bonanza Park is included as a receiving zone and was seen at the time of the program's creation as the most important of the receiving zones. The Bonanza Park partnership at the time was interested in amassing development rights through the program as it planned a major redo of the parcels. The partnership instead anticipates selling the land to City Hall for the creation of an arts and culture district.

Any City Hall move toward selling Treasure development rights would likely be closely watched by a range of interest groups. Opponents of the Treasure development proposal would be expected to monitor the sale of the rights with the hope that such a deal would reduce the overall cost to taxpayers of the acquisition, something that could make the purchase more attractive to voters who may be wavering on the ballot measure. The development community would be interested in the ultimate location of the development rights. People in the real estate industry would almost certainly be interested in the price tag of an agreement to transfer rights. There have not been detailed public discussions about the prospects of City Hall employing the program.

The Treasure development proposal involves approximately 1 million square feet of residences, commercial spaces and convention space on a hillside overlooking Old Town along the route of the Town Lift. A partnership involving the Sweeney family and a firm called Park City II, LLC owns the Treasure land.

The informational session on Tuesday drew a small crowd to the Municipal Athletic & Recreation Center. Beerman told the attendees officials want to set a ballot measure at approximately $50 million and more information will be made available during the City Hall budget season, which starts in earnest in the spring and lasts through early summer. The mayor also said Park City leaders will likely discuss Treasure with an open space committee in the Snyderville Basin. He conceded, though, the committee in the Snyderville Basin has other projects to pursue.

Beerman's comments about the Snyderville Basin committee were in response to an audience question. The mayor said he does not anticipate an effort to raise money through donations for the Treasure deal, explaining that a major campaign was recently successfully mounted to finalize the acquisition of Bonanza Flat.

"I don't see us getting a lot of funding from outside sources," he said.

Beerman also told the audience the City Hall budget is healthy and the municipal government is "spending within our means."

One of the people who attended, Snow Creek resident Meg Parker, said she would support a ballot measure to raise the funds needed for the Treasure acquisition. She said a Treasure development would "completely change the connection we have to this town."

"Nobody's coming here to vacation in Manhattan," she said.