Park City dispute could turn into a $10 million question
July 10, 2016
The dispute about the name Park City might become a $10 million question for Park City Mountain Resort owner Vail Resorts.
In an unexpected point in a statement from Mayor Jack Thomas regarding a polarizing Vail Resorts trademark application for the name Park City, the mayor broached the idea that City Hall could end the long-running discussions between the municipal government and PCMR about a partnership as the resort’s base area is redeveloped.
A prior City Hall administration agreed to fund up to $10 million toward the cost of a transit hub, garage and related infrastructure at PCMR. The agreement, outlined in a letter of intent, was reached with the former owner of PCMR, and there have been few public statements about the deal since Vail Resorts acquired PCMR in 2014. City Hall at the time saw the $10 million agreement as something that would advance the municipal government’s transit system at one of its busiest locations while PCMR was interested as it was preparing to develop the resort parking lots.
The deal involved expanding the lifespan of a City Hall-controlled entity called the Lower Park Avenue Redevelopment Agency from 2015 until 2030. The agency brings in money through tax increments, essentially most of the property taxes paid above the 1990 level on or in the vicinity of lower Park Avenue. The figure of up to $10 million was anticipated to fund between 20 percent and 25 percent of the overall cost of the project.
The agreement was outlined in a nonbinding letter of intent between City Hall and Powdr Corp., the former owner of PCMR. City Hall says the letter of intent is no longer in effect, meaning that the new ownership of PCMR would need to negotiate another agreement if it wants to partner with the municipal government on transit and parking infrastructure.
Powdr Corp. at the time of the negotiations was interested in building an action sports camp at PCMR and engaged City Hall as it considered the infrastructure the project would require. Vail Resorts, though, has not yet outlined a detailed plan for the redevelopment of the parking lots.
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In the statement from the mayor, released on Tuesday, Thomas indicated he plans to speak to the Park City Council on July 28 about whether the City should continue talks regarding potential collaborative projects in the Lower Park Avenue Redevelopment Area and ski resort planning projects, including the Park City Mountain Resort/Vail Master Plan.
He said the July 28 discussion hinges on whether City Hall and Vail Resorts make progress on an agreement about the trademark application. PCMR, however, has said it does not intend to withdraw or change the application for a trademark on the name Park City as it applies to a mountain resort.
The application has drawn widespread opposition in Park City as businesses that also use the name of the city in their moniker worry about the potential impact of Vail Resorts securing a trademark. Rank-and-file Parkites are also displeased with the prospects of the name of the city being trademarked. Vail Resorts has pledged it would not bring actions against the many other businesses with the name of the city in their name and has said the trademark is meant to protect against another mountain resort opening with the words Park City in its name.
In an interview, the mayor said the statement about the $10 million agreement was meant to draw the attention of Vail Resorts. He said private meetings are planned in Park City next week between City Hall officials and Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz.
“I wanted to put it in terms they understood,” Thomas said.
Dana Williams, who served three terms as mayor ending in early 2014 and is a prominent opponent of the trademark application, said in an interview he supports City Hall reviewing its overall relationship with Vail Resorts. He said Vail Resorts on its own could fund the infrastructure that City Hall once considered as part of the agreement, but financial issues are critical to a publicly traded company.
“That’s everything to them, the bottom line,” Williams said.
Vail Resorts released a prepared statement at the request of The Park Record about the mayor’s comments regarding the $10 million agreement. The statement, attributed to Kristin Kenney Williams, the vice president of mountain community affairs, reads:
“We have been in discussions with the city about the potential for a redevelopment at the Park City Mountain base area, which would add significant incremental parking, employee housing and funding for the School District as well as a much upgraded transit experience and arrival to the resort. The project would be undertaken by a third party developer and not by Vail Resorts. However, we have always been clear with the city that our enthusiasm for the project is predicated on the benefit to the larger community and have no interest in proceeding further if it’s not supported by the City Council.”
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