As Treasure looms, is it time for homeowners to sell in Old Town?
A real estate agent who works extensively on Old Town last summer sent a letter to homeowners on Empire Avenue mentioning the controversial Treasure development proposal as one of the reasons that the timing might be right to put a house on the market.
Empire Avenue is one of the streets closest to the Treasure site and is among the roads expected to be heavily impacted by traffic from the project. People who live on roads like Empire Avenue and Lowell Avenue formed the early core of the Treasure opposition, and the concerns about Treasure seem to be especially pronounced on those streets.
The letter, signed by Summit Sotheby’s International Realty agent Sean Matyja, is not dated. The one-page letter, addressed to “Empire Avenue Homeowner,” says it is an “opportune time to sell a home in Old Town.” The letter reviews the number of listings in Old Town and pricing data from pending and closed sales. It also covers an increase in prices in Old Town, quoting Park City Board of Realtors statistics.
“Old Town has enjoyed an accelerated growth in value over the last few years, and the big question now is do we still have room to grow or are we at a new peak,” the letter says. “With the impactful Treasure project back in the news, uncertainty in international economies, and a presidential election coming to an end this fall, this summer may be an opportune time to sell.”
Brian Van Hecke, the leader of a Treasure opposition group called the Treasure Hill Impact Neighborhood Coalition, forwarded the letter to the Park City Planning Department. The letter was made public as part of a department report drafted in anticipation of a Park City Planning Commission meeting about Treasure scheduled on Wednesday.
The letter does not provide details about the impacts of Treasure, though. Treasure critics have long maintained the project would have wide-ranging effects on Old Town. They have argued the project, which would be built on a hillside overlooking the neighborhood, would loom over Old Town and attract lots of traffic. They also worry about construction impacts during what is anticipated to be a years-long schedule of building the project.
“It’s always uncertainty that does have an impact on real estate,” Matyja said in an interview, indicating similar letters were sent to homeowners on other streets close to the Treasure land.
The potential impacts of Treasure on real estate have been only sporadically addressed during the years of the discussions about the project. It is difficult to forecast the long-term effects of a development on nearby real estate. While some claim that a project like Treasure could depress prices based on traffic and other concerns, others could argue such a development could eventually lift prices as skiing improvements are made and the project potentially boosts Park City’s resort-driven economy.
In an interview, Van Hecke said Treasure will “destroy Old Town,” offering comments similar to those he has made over the course of the discussions about the project.
“Old Town’s under siege. The threat of Treasure Hill is causing a lot of stress and duress,” Van Hecke said, asking “who wants to live through 10 years of heavy construction.”
He worries about pollution and the use of explosives during the excavation. Van Hecke, who has lived on Empire Avenue and owns his house, said some in Old Town are considering whether they will want to live in the neighborhood if Treasure is developed.
“He’s stating the obvious that we’re all wondering in Old Town,” Van Hecke said, adding, “He’s stating something that’s, frankly, in the back of our mind.”
The Park City Planning Commission is scheduled to continue its discussions about Treasure at a meeting on Wednesday. The panel is also set to visit the Treasure site. The visit is scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m. at the Lowell Avenue-Empire Avenue switchback. The meeting follows at 5:30 p.m. in the Santy Auditorium at the Park City Library. A hearing is scheduled as well.
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Arlene Loble served as the Park City manager in the 1980s, a pivotal period that prepared the community for the boom years that would follow in the 1990s. Loble, who recently died, is credited with introducing a level of professionalism to the municipal government that was needed amid the growth challenges.