Park City ‘duplicating’ Vail, PCMR project critic claims |

Park City ‘duplicating’ Vail, PCMR project critic claims

There is concern about adding development to the community

The base area at Vail Mountain in Vail, Colorado, draws crowds throughout much of the year, including the fall, shown in 2020. Park City Mountain Resort is under the same corporate ownership as Vail Mountain. A critic of a development proposal at PCMR recently expressed concern Park City is “duplicating” what is seen in Vail.
Courtesy of Jay Hamburger

There has long been a point of pride in Park City that can be summarized by the phrase “We’re not Vail.”

Parkites of various stripes for decades have looked with derision at the Colorado community. Vail is a purpose-built city lacking the charm and authenticity of historic communities like Park City, the argument goes.

As the Park City Planning Commission continues the difficult talks about a proposal for a major development at the Park City Mountain Resort base area, panelists in November received a correspondence worrying about the prospects of the Park City area someday resembling Vail, as well as resorts in the East.

An Old Town resident, Judy Collins, submitted the correspondence on Nov. 20. It was among several released by City Hall as a recent Planning Commission meeting approached.

“Skiing/Boarding in the East is icy and very crowded and not enjoyable. We stopped going to Vail, CO because we disliked the overbuild in their village. Walls of buildings, blocking the view!” Collins wrote. “PC is duplicating the East Coast and Vail, CO. I feel like we are all banging our heads on the walls.”

The correspondence covers other issues like what she describes as the proposal at PCMR including “walls of buildings at the PC base,” and it outlines a call to “stop the greed. Perfect what we have. Stop adding more and more and more.”

The mention of Vail in the correspondence from Collins, though, is noteworthy with Vail Resorts being the owner of PCMR. Broomfield, Colorado-based Vail Resorts earlier reached an agreement to sell the PCMR parking lots to a Provo developer called PEG Companies. The deal would not be finalized until after the talks about the development proposal. Vail Resorts opted to sell the land rather than develop the ground itself.

Some in Park City seem to see Vail Resorts, which is a publicly traded company that owns and operates mountain resorts, and the community of Vail as being closely connected. Although the Vail Resorts portfolio of mountain resorts stretches across North America and onto other continents, it is the namesake property in Colorado that remains most associated with the firm.

The Vail Resorts acquisition of PCMR in 2014, which ended a high-profile lawsuit centered on a previous owner of the resort’s lease of most of the land underlying the slopes, spurred widespread trepidation in the Park City area with such a large player in the industry solidifying a presence. The acquisition led to concern by some about corporatization, increases in crowds and the prospects of soaring real estate prices.

Others, though, saw the arrival of Vail Resorts as something that would result in an infusion of investment into PCMR and lead to further recognition of Park City as a top-tier destination. The Vail Resorts multi-resort Epic Pass would bring skiers and snowboarders to Park City from a wide range of markets, they anticipated.

Although it is PEG Companies leading the efforts in front of the Planning Commission, Vail Resorts is monitoring the discussions and is working closely with the developer since the project would essentially reimagine the base area of PCMR, including reconfiguring the parking and transit operations. Much of the criticism of the development proposal has targeted the proposal from PEG Companies even as the opponents recognize the role of Vail Resorts.

The Planning Commission, it appears, is preparing to cast a vote on the proposal in coming months, but it is unclear when it will be ready to render a decision. A PEG Companies representative at the recent meeting told the Planning Commission the proposal will not be significantly altered and said the firm desired a vote shortly.

The PEG Companies’ proposal covers 10 acres and includes a hotel, condominiums, retailers and restaurants. Housing for employees and units set aside as affordable are also included. Large garages would be built in place of the base-area parking spots that would be lost as the existing lots are developed. The previous owner of PCMR secured an overall approval for development on the land but another “Yea” vote is needed before the project can proceed.

The critics of the proposal are worried about issues like the overall design, the height of the buildings and the traffic the project is expected to generate.

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