Park City, in crucial report, questions Treasure numbers | ParkRecord.com

Park City, in crucial report, questions Treasure numbers

City Hall has issued a report questioning the square footage the Treasure partnership wants approved on a hillside overlooking Old Town, a wrinkle in the long-running discussions about the project that could have broad implications for the developers.

The Park City Planning Department drafted the report in anticipation of a meeting of the Planning Commission scheduled on Wednesday, July 13. The meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. in the Santy Auditorium at the Park City Library.

The amount of square footage proposed by the Treasure developers, just more than 1 million square feet, has long been one of the sticking points between the developers, Planning Commissions over the years and project critics. The Sweeney family in the 1980s secured development rights for the Treasure land and nearby parcels, but the detailed numbers have been disputed by the various sides based on their own calculations. The Treasure parcel is located just west of Old Town roughly along the route of the Town Lift.

The Treasure partnership – consisting of the Sweeney family and a firm called Park City II, LLC – argues the approximately 1 million square feet sought meets the 1980s approval. Critics have said otherwise, though, claiming the developers' calculations involve square footage that was not contemplated in the 1980s.

The Planning Department report claims the square footage the Treasure side proposes "does not comply with the purpose statements" in City Hall's detailed development rules, outlined in a document called the Land Management Code. The numbers also do not comply with the "goals and actions listed" in the municipal government's General Plan, an overarching document that guides growth.

"Staff has concerns with the requested amount of square footage requested. The amount of circulation area, lobby areas, parking circulation, etc. are not modest in scale and compatible to the surrounding area," the report, written by Francisco Astorga, who is the City Hall planner assigned to Treasure, says.

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The Planning Department provides a breakdown of the square footages and compares the numbers between a 2004 iteration of Treasure and the one that is now before the Planning Commission. The proposed square footage has grown from 849,007 to 1,016,887, according to the report. The growth in the proposal is mostly attributed to what is categorized as ancillary space, common area, space for circulation and accessory space, the breakdown shows. Much of the consternation centered on square footage has focused on the so-called back-of-house space, which is the area needed to operate a high-end hotel. The department, however, did not identify a square footage that it sees as meeting the 1980s approval.

The discussions regarding square footage are critical to the overall Planning Commission process regarding Treasure. There are numerous other issues the panel will address, such as the amount of traffic the project is expected to generate and the proposed height of the project, but the Planning Commission's leanings on the question of square footage could set a tone.

Bruce Erickson, the planning director at City Hall and one of the staffers heavily involved in the Treasure discussions, acknowledged the importance of square footage.

"It's the crux of the whole project right now," Erickson said, also pointing out that the related issue of the volume of the buildings is important.

The Sweeney family, which is the traditional owner of the Treasure acreage, disputes the Planning Department report. Pat Sweeney, who represents his family, said the assertion in the report "contradicts" the overall approval from the 1980s.

"What we're doing is absolutely legitimate . . . and totally consistent with other similar projects," Sweeney said, pointing to the Montage Deer Valley as an example.

Sweeney said the Treasure side on Wednesday intends to provide an explanation of the square footage and argue that the numbers comply with the overall approval and City Hall's development rules. He said there will be a detailed review of the various editions of the Land Management Code that have been in existence over the course of the Treasure project. Sweeney said Treasure must be built with the square footage requested to ensure the development operates as envisioned.

"All of the things go into making a successful project. We need all of them," Sweeney said.