Park City reaches Treasure deal, but what about an appraisal?
February 13, 2018
The Treasure land on a hillside overlooking Old Town along the route of the Town Lift is, undoubtedly, valuable.
It is on the slopes of Park City Mountain Resort and just blocks from the shopping, dining and entertainment of Main Street. And there are significant development rights attached to the land dating from the 1980s.
But the real value of the approximately 105 acres remains unknown to the public. City Hall has negotiated a $64 million deal with the Treasure partnership to acquire the land in a conservation deal, meaning Park City's leaders have pegged the value of the land at that figure. Park City voters are anticipated to decide whether City Hall acquires the land via a ballot measure in November. It would raise approximately $50 million toward the deal with officials in coming months expected to consider funding options for the remainder.
The property's appraised value, though, is not known publicly, spurring questions shortly after the agreement was announced. The appraised value has not been an overriding issue thus far, but it has been mentioned sporadically.
It is something that could eventually embolden critics of the agreement should they attempt to argue that City Hall wants voters to approve the municipal government's most expensive conservation deal, through what would be the largest-ever bond, without the knowledge of an appraisal.
City Hall has attempted to acquire Treasure outright or negotiate a partial buyout of the development rights several times over the years, but the current deal is the first to advance to a point that it appears to be a possibility. The Park City Council on Thursday is scheduled to consider an agreement with the Treasure partnership that would move the community toward a November ballot measure. The partnership involves the Sweeney family, which is the traditional owner of the land, and a firm called Park City II, LLC.
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It is not clear when City Hall most recently obtained an appraisal of the Treasure land and attached development rights. In 2010, one of the earlier points when a deal seemed possible, the municipal government funded an appraisal.
The 2010 document was not made public. State law allows a municipality to guard documents and discussions related to property acquisitions. Requiring that sort of information to be public could jeopardize negotiations between a government entity like City Hall and a property owner since others that may be interested in a parcel would be given a competitive advantage by having access to the numbers.
Chris Donaldson, a certified general appraiser in the local office of Cushman & Wakefield, conducted the 2010 appraisal. It was dated in July and was the only appraisal that had been conducted on behalf of City Hall to that point. A City Hall official in 2011 said the appraisal assigned dollar figures to two scenarios — the value of the land coupled with the development rights attached to the acreage as well as a Treasure development itself.
The Sweeney family has said the Treasure side conducted an appraisal in 2011. Information about the family's appraisal has not been made public.
Donaldson in an interview on Monday said he reached a dollar figure based on two key attributes of the Treasure land, the accessibility to the Park City Mountain Resort slopes and the proximity to Main Street. The slopes and Main Street have long made property attractive in the vicinity of Treasure.
"It's kind of got the double whammy," Donaldson said, adding that the two attributes "could be big value drivers."
He said proximity to the slopes is proven to increase property values but "a little less proven is exactly what the proximity to Old Town does for you."
Donaldson said the development rights attached to the land were also an important factor as the appraisal was crafted.
Donaldson, however, said the costs associated with developing the Treasure land could reduce the value of the acreage. He said, as an example, the costs that would be anticipated as the land is excavated would impact the price someone would be willing to pay in an acquisition.
Donaldson also acknowledged he conducted the appraisal in 2010, during what he describes as the "trough" of the recession. Real estate values were down at that time, he said. The market is much stronger in mountain resorts in 2018 than it was eight years ago, he said.
The talks about a conservation deal resulted in the $64 million agreement after years of discussions about the Treasure development proposal, which calls for approximately 1 million square feet. There is deep-rooted concern among Treasure critics that the project would loom over Old Town, draw too much traffic and require a large excavation on the highly visible hillside.