Park City Treasure deal fell by millions of dollars since 2011
The price of Treasure has dropped sharply in seven years even as real estate prices have steadily risen in Park City during that time.
City Hall announced on Wednesday evening a deal had been reached to acquire the hillside acreage and attached development rights. Officials identified the $64 million price tag the next morning.
The $64 million sum will be widely debated in coming months if Mayor Andy Beerman and the Park City Council agree to pursue the acquisition, something that is a near certainty since it is the elected officials who negotiated the agreement. A ballot measure expected to be set at approximately $50 million or less would be put to voters in November while the remaining multimillion-dollar gap would be funded through other means, including shifting $6 million earmarked to build a plaza in the Brew Pub lot to the Treasure deal.
The $64 million would be, by a wide margin, Park City’s most expensive conservation deal. The $38 million acquisition of Bonanza Flat, finalized in 2017, currently holds that mark. Moreover, an approximately $50 million ballot measure to fund a Treasure deal would set a Park City record as the largest-ever conservation bond, also by a wide margin. The current high, $25 million, was approved by voters in 2016 to put toward a Bonanza Flat deal.
But some supporters of a Treasure deal may argue that the $64 million price is reasonable, particularly when put against earlier discussions about the acreage that did not yield an agreement.
In 2011, the most recent time a City Hall acquisition of Treasure appeared possible, the price was set at just under $93 million. Park City’s elected officials at that time opted against pursuing a deal, saying the number was too high. A little more than six years later, and with the Park City real estate market stronger than it was in the post-recession era of 2011, the Treasure price has dropped by nearly one-third.
The mayor, who held a critical role in the discussions that led to the $64 million deal, said in an interview the drop in price over the years is likely due to the Treasure side’s willingness to sell the land at this point in the decades of discussions about the development. The sides are “realistic” now, Beerman said.
“I think everybody came back down to earth,” Beerman said about the difference between the two numbers.
He also said City Hall in 2011 was a “motivated buyer, and they were not a motivated seller.”
The Treasure land is located on a hillside overlooking Old Town along the route of the Town Lift. The Sweeney family, the traditional owner of the land, in the 1980s secured an overall development approval for the Treasure land and nearby parcels. The family later sold a 50 percent stake in Treasure to a firm called Park City II, LLC.
The Treasure side has spent more than a decade in on-and-off talks with the Park City Planning Commission about a project of approximately 1 million square feet, including a hotel, commercial space and convention facilities. People who live nearby and the Planning Commission continue to have deep-rooted concerns about issues like the traffic Treasure would be expected to generate, the height of the project and the impacts of construction.
There have been various negotiations between City Hall and Treasure about the municipal government acquiring some or all of the development rights, shifting those rights to a spot deemed better suited for growth or a reimagined design.
The Planning Commission appeared to be preparing to cast a ‘Nay’ vote on Treasure late last year, triggering a flurry of private discussions involving the elected officials and the developers that yielded the $64 million agreement.
Craig Call, an attorney who represents Park City II, LLC, declined to discuss the drop in price from just under $93 million in 2011 to the current figure. Pat Sweeney, who represents his family in the Treasure development talks but not directly in the discussions about a City Hall acquisition, said the 2011 discussions that led to the nearly $93 million figure involved the Treasure side talking about high numbers and the City Hall side countering with low numbers.
“I don’t think they got to the middle point, where reality was,” Sweeney said.
Two people indicated in interviews they are considering mounting campaigns for the Park City Council, a signal the City Hall election could attract an intriguing slate of candidates in a year when the majority of the five seats are on the ballot.