Park City Treasure talks expose worries about quick pace, finances
Park City officials on Wednesday and Thursday addressed the proposed acquisition of a 50 percent stake in Treasure, providing details comparing the existing development blueprint to a reimagined one that would be pursued if the deal is finalized.
The Park City Planning Commission discussed Treasure on Wednesday followed by a Park City Council meeting the next day. City Hall at the Wednesday meeting provided the comparison. Details like those provided on Wednesday had been sought for several weeks by the various sides in the Treasure talks as they weighed a tentative agreement calling for City Hall to acquire the one-half stake in Treasure for $30 million. Of the total, $24 million would need to be raised through a ballot measure. There have been concerns that details of a reimagined project had not been outlined.
Officials nonetheless received questions from the public at both meetings as Park City residents weigh what would be an unorthodox City Hall agreement that would reduce the scope of a project rather than eliminate the possibility of one, as has been the case in Park City’s successful open space program.
The Treasure land is located on a hillside overlooking Old Town along the route of the Town Lift. The Sweeney family in the 1980s secured an overall development approval involving the Treasure land and nearby parcels. The land is now under the ownership of a partnership consisting of the Sweeney family and a firm called Park City II, LLC. City Hall would acquire the Sweeney family’s stake in Treasure if the deal is finalized. Park City II, LLC would then pursue a reimagined, reduced project.
The back-to-back meetings illustrated the concentrated timeline of the talks about City Hall acquiring a 50 percent stake. The discussions about the Treasure development as proposed by the partnership have stretched for more than a decade with a series of stops and starts. The talks about the City Hall acquisition and a reimagined project, though, are expected to unfold over just a few months followed by a ballot measure.
The Planning Commission meeting on Wednesday appeared to be the more critical of the two held during the week. A key chart presented on Wednesday showed a reimagined project would entail 383,200 square feet of development, down from the 948,730 contemplated in the Treasure proposal itself. A reimagined project would include a boutique hotel of 266,200 square feet. Eighteen houses would account for a combined 117,000 square feet.
Park City officials said a consultant found a reimagined project could reduce the number of vehicle trips attributed to Treasure by 56 percent in the morning and 75 percent in the afternoon. Traffic headed to and from Treasure has long been one of the key concerns of project critics and Treasure critics.
The Planning Commission received a little less than 30 minutes of testimony as speakers questioned the timeline of the talks and expressed at least initial support for the reduced square footage.
Kyra Parkhurst, an Empire Avenue resident and longtime critic of the Treasure proposal as envisioned prior to the talks about the reimagined project, said she prefers the scaled-back numbers but added more details are needed about issues like the excavation that would be needed to build the project. She also said perhaps the required work force housing at Treasure could be shifted to the Park City Mountain Resort base. Ed Parigian, a Norfolk Avenue resident who is also concerned with Treasure, said the process “seems rushed.”
Rich Wyman, another Treasure critic, said information is needed about the proposed height of a boutique hotel, wondered whether there are renderings of the reimagined project and said the amount of meeting space within the project has not been fully addressed.
Wyman, meanwhile, also questioned what he considers to be a condensed timeline for the talks about the reimagined project and a ballot measure. He wanted information about the combined debt Park City voters previously approved through ballot measures, such as the $25 million authorized to partially fund the acquisition of Bonanza Flat for conservation purposes.
“How many bonds are out there?” Wyman said.
Another important point at the Planning Commission meeting was City Hall outlining that Treasure and the municipal government are not considering shifting the development rights attached to the land to another location. Project opponents have long argued the development rights would be better suited at a location closer to the PCMR base.
The City Council meeting on Thursday also partially dwelled on financial matters related to a ballot measure. Tom Fey, a Park Meadows resident, requested information about the combined property taxes attached to previous voter-authorized bonds as well as details about Park City School District financial needs.
Fey also questioned an initial $6 million payment that would be due shortly if City Hall moves forward on a deal with the Sweeney family. If a ballot measure fails, the $6 million would be put toward a 10 percent reduction in Treasure. Fey said Park City taxpayers get little benefit from the $6 million in that scenario.
Wyman appeared at the City Council meeting the day after his comments to the Planning Commission. He told the elected officials the process is “so rushed,” said there has not been a project developed at a location like Treasure and claimed Park City II, LLC does not have the experience for such a project. City Councilor Steve Joyce, though, countered that there are similar developments in Park City.
The City Councilors offered limited comments as they are anticipated to continue the talks later in January. City Councilor Becca Gerber said she is pleased with the square-footage numbers, explaining that City Hall would get value through a 50 percent acquisition.
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How on earth will the Park City Council candidates address the traffic situation? What will they pledge to accomplish regarding housing? And how well do they understand the impact of the consolidation and corporatization of the ski industry? The fall campaign could answer those questions.