Deer Valley project tour shows possibility of gondola-to-gondola route to slopes

Planning Commission visits Snow Park to learn about major development proposal

Park City Planning Commission chair John Phillips uses a visual aid as he learns details about a major Deer Valley Resort development proposal at Snow Park during a tour of the land on Wednesday. The development team highlighted several locations during the tour.
David Jackson/Park Record

The route to the Deer Valley Resort slopes could someday involve hopping off one gondola and then either hopping onto another gondola or boarding a lift.

As the Park City Planning Commission continues discussions about a major development proposal at the Snow Park base area, the prospects of a gondola connection were again pointed out on Wednesday.

The Deer Valley development team led a tour of the Snow Park land just before the panel held another discussion about the project. Approximately 30 people walked through the parking lots proposed for development, with locations where certain elements of the project would be built highlighted. Some studied maps provided by the development team as they moved from location to location. Members of the Planning Commission and interested Parkites listened to the project team provide an outline of the proposal on the land itself before continuing the talks at the meeting afterward.

Transportation improvements are some of the keys to the project, and the prospects of some sort of gondola system are especially intriguing. Although the concept of aerial transit was not heavily discussed during the tour on Wednesday, there have been talks in Park City at various levels for years about building an aerial transit system as a traffic-fighting measure. Snow Park has been seen as one of the likely locations of a terminal in a gondola system connecting Deer Valley to the rest of the community.

The Deer Valley side on Wednesday marked the proposed location of a reconfigured Silver Lake Express lift, planting an orange stake where the bottom terminal would be placed. It was on a grassy area on the west side of the parking lots a little bit downhill from Snow Park Lodge. Deer Valley has not finalized whether the Silver Lake Express lift would remain a lift or if the route would ultimately be served by a gondola under the overall development plans. Ski terrain would be extended to the location as well.

A stake placed just off the Snow Park parking lots on Wednesday marks the location where the bottom terminal of a reconfigured Silver Lake Express lift would be located under the plans for a major development. Ski terrain would be extended to the location as well.
David Jackson/Park Record

The stake appeared to draw only limited interest from the crowd on the tour, but the spot will likely have importance as the Planning Commission discussions continue. The panel is expected to spend extensive time on transportation-related topics, as is usually the case with large development proposals. The details of a redesigned Silver Lake Express lift will be of note in the context of the potential location of a terminal in a community-wide aerial transit system as well as in relation to Deer Valley’s own blueprints for parking and transportation in the Snow Park development. One of Deer Valley’s earlier submittals to the Park City Planning Department shows a potential aerial transit route with a terminal just downhill from the relocated Silver Lake Express lift. In that submittal, an aerial transit route and the relocated Silver Lake Express lift are shown essentially meeting each other at a spot where a parking garage for skiers and hotel guests would be constructed.

The Deer Valley side on Wednesday said the location marked by the stake could also include a ski corral and window for lift-ticket sales.

In an unexpected appearance, Steve Issowits, who was Deer Valley’s vice president of real estate and resort planning until his departure from the resort in recent days, joined the crowd on the tour. Issowits was one of the key figures for Deer Valley in the talks about the Snow Park proposal but did not lead the tour on Wednesday.

The Planning Commission at the meeting afterward appeared to make limited progress in the discussions about the Snow Park development proposal. The panel did not take public input on Wednesday, partially based on an especially lengthy agenda. The Planning Commission signaled it could address right-of-way issues and plats related to the project at a meeting in January or February.

Approximately 30 people, including members of the Park City Planning Commission, joined a tour on Wednesday of the Snow Park land where a major development is proposed. The Planning Commission is in the early stages of talks about the project.
David Jackson/Park Record

Significant development outside Snow Park Lodge, where the parking lots are now located, was envisioned in the 1970s-era approval for the construction of Deer Valley, meaning the Planning Commission is tasked with deciding whether the proposal fits with what was outlined decades ago rather than whether there should be development there at all. Deer Valley has said it intends for the project to jibe with the earlier approval regarding issues like building heights and square footage.

The proposal would remake the Snow Park base area with a hotel, residential lodging, retailers, dining locations and entertainment. Large garages would be built to replace the parking spots in the lots that would be lost as the ground is developed.

The Planning Commission remains in the early stages of the review of the Snow Park proposal. The panelists in coming months will address a range of topics in addition to transportation, such as the layout of the project and the designs. The discussions have appeared to especially draw interest from people who live or own properties in the lower Deer Valley area.

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