UPDATED: Park City reaches Treasure deal, most expensive ever
January 24, 2018
City Hall and the Treasure partnership said on Thursday a deal had been reached calling for the municipal government to acquire the long-disputed hillside land for $64 million, an agreement that would be, by a wide margin, the municipal government's most expensive open space purchase but one that would end decades of uncertainty about the acreage.
The announcement that a deal had been reached was another dramatic moment in a development dispute that has had a series of them over the years. Park City officials on Wednesday acknowledged late-hour negotiations were underway about a deal and on Thursday publicized the price.
A deal with the Treasure partners — the Sweeney family and a firm called Park City II, LLC — would depend on Park City voters approving a ballot measure in November that is expected to be pegged at approximately $50 million or less. Another $6 million would be shifted from City Hall's budget for capital projects and be used as a nonrefundable deposit. It was not immediately clear how City Hall would fund what would be the multimillion-dollar remaining gap.
The deal was reached as the Park City Planning Commission and the Park City Council were involved in a separate round of talks with the Treasure side about a reimagined, scaled-back project.
That iteration of Treasure would have hinged on a $30 million agreement that envisioned City Hall acquiring the Sweeney family's one-half stake in the project with the intention of retiring 50 percent of the development rights attached to the hillside. The other 50 percent, owned by Park City II, LLC, would have remained intact and been redesigned.
The Sweeney family is the traditional landowner of the Treasure acreage and later sold the 50 percent stake to Park City II, LLC. The land is located on a hillside overlooking Old Town along the route of the Town Lift. It is off streets like Lowell Avenue and Empire Avenue.
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"We got comfortable stepping aside for the right price. This buyout is the right price," said Pat Sweeney, who represents his family in the development talks about Treasure but not directly in the discussions about a City Hall acquisition. "It just feels like a fair deal for us. We're happy with the price."
Craig Call, an attorney who represents Park City II, LLC, said the agreement accommodates the desire of Parkites should they want to approve the funding. He said, though, there is lots of upside to Treasure if it were to be developed. Elizabeth Rad, who helms Park City II, LLC, made a rare public statement about Treasure in prepared comments released by City Hall.
"Though we remain committed to returning to our project proposal if this 100 percent buyout attempt fails, we have reluctantly come to the table with something the community has long sought and, to be fair, we have resisted — a full buyout of our development," Rad said in the statement.
The Sweeney family in the 1980s secured an overall development approval for the Treasure acreage and nearby parcels of land, but another permit would be needed for the project itself. The discussions with the Planning Commission have stretched for more than a decade with a series of stops and starts. Planning Commission rosters and people who live close to the land have deep-rooted concerns about Treasure, including the amount of traffic the project is anticipated to generate, the size of the buildings and the amount of excavation. The critics say the project would loom over Old Town. The Treasure side, though, counters the development meets the 1980s approval and would boost the economy. Treasure representatives also claim they have taken steps to reduce traffic, including proposing a people mover known as a cabriolet to take people between the development and Main Street.
City Hall did not immediately release precise numbers regarding the property-tax impact of a ballot measure of approximately $50 million. Officials said it appears the tax increase would amount to just under $200 per year for each $1 million of valuation for someone who owns a primary residence. People who own vacation homes or commercial properties would pay roughly double. The bond would likely be repaid over 15 years.
The City Council is expected to discuss the agreement at a meeting on Feb. 1. Mayor Andy Beerman, in a prepared statement also released by City Hall, said the agreement offers an opportunity for a resolution about Treasure after the decades of discussions.
"Ultimately, my goal has always been to put the entire property into an open space conservation easement to prevent development and protect Old Town. Once and for all, we may have a chance to resolve decades of community anxiety and angst. I am excited the Treasure Hill partnership has finally accepted our request to present a full buyout of Treasure Hill," the mayor said.