Park City nears critical decision about Yard deal |

Park City nears critical decision about Yard deal

Officials on Thursday will likely signal whether they will proceed

Park City leaders on Thursday will almost certainly decide whether they will continue to pursue the acquisition of approximately 50 percent of The Yard, a prime piece of ground along Kearns Boulevard, as a critical date fast approaches in the buying process.

Mayor Jack Thomas and the Park City Council are scheduled to discuss The Yard just days before a Dec. 9 deadline for City Hall to transfer $60,000 in escrow money to a title company. The date is also the deadline for the municipal government to complete the due diligence process, which is the time when a prospective buyer undertakes a detailed review of a property.

The mayor and City Council on Thursday are expected to decide whether they want to proceed with the acquisition or terminate the buying process. If they proceed, the $60,000 would be transferred, putting that sum at stake if a deal is not finalized later. Should the elected officials opt against pursuing a deal on Thursday, the escrow money would not be transferred and City Hall would end the talks with the landowner, a firm under the ownership of the Bonanza Park partnership of Mark J. Fischer and John Paul DeJoria.

If the elected officials want to continue, a closing date is anticipated on Feb. 1. The City Council would be expected to confirm the intent to finalize the acquisition at a meeting on Jan. 26.

City Hall and the Bonanza Park partnership negotiated a deal priced at just under $6 million for 2.29 acres of land in the southern part of The Yard. The deal involves approximately 50 percent of the property. The Bonanza Park partnership has described ambitious ideas to redevelop The Yard in the past, but City Hall, seeing the land as strategically located, hopes to influence development there by an acquisition.

Park City officials have discussed a wide range of possibilities if the municipal government finalizes the acquisition. City Hall says some sort of work force or otherwise restricted housing, transit infrastructure and parking could be developed at the site. A design has not been finalized, and it seems crafting the blueprints could become difficult as officials weigh the various possibilities for the land.

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In a report submitted to the elected officials in anticipation of the meeting on Thursday, Jonathan Weidenhamer, the economic development manager at City Hall, recommends the deal be pursued. He says in the report doing so "would allow a significant transportation and/or housing project to be built."

"The Private sector/free market outcomes are developing inconsistent with stated goals and desired outcomes for the neighborhood in terms of affordability, and impacts on traffic and congestion," the report also says.

Weidenhamer, though, also acknowledges City Hall appears "to be buying at the height of the market." The report, meanwhile, says the municipal government is "potentially influencing the real estate market in this area."

The land is situated behind The Boneyard Saloon & Kitchen and borders the Recycling Center, a Rocky Mountain Power substation Homestake Road and a storage-unit business. The Bonanza Park partnership has seen The Yard as the anchor of the redevelopment of the district. The partnership as recently as last winter was interested in developing the site with 36 residential units spread through five buildings.

The report to the elected officials says the partnership could have made an estimated $5.1 million in monetary returns if the project was developed as proposed plus revenues from long-term rentals. The estimate is conservative, City Hall says. It says the partnership is "firm that they are a willing seller only at" the price of just less than $6 million.

The Bonanza Park partnership said the City Hall acquisition is expected to proceed.

"I think everything's going to go ahead," Fischer said. "I anticipate a successful closing."