Park City told to consider buyout of some Vail Resorts development rights at PCMR
Idea would have broad ramifications for project, but numerous questions could be raised
A critic of plans for a major project at the Park City Mountain Resort base area recently broached the idea of City Hall acquiring a portion of the development rights attached to the land, a concept that could assuage some of the concerns of the opposition but one that, if pursued, would be expected to suddenly reignite debate about City Hall spending and property taxes.
The concept was briefly mentioned during a lengthy meeting of the Park City Planning Commission as the discussions about the project continue. The Planning Commission did not respond to the comment. Such an acquisition would not be under the purview of the Planning Commission.
Lisa Paul, who is part of the opposition to the development proposal, provided the comments to the Planning Commission during a hearing and noted the 2019 City Hall acquisition of the Treasure acreage on a hillside overlooking Old Town in a $64 million conservation deal. That agreement ended a long-running development dispute and was funded through a property-tax increase authorized by voters.
In the matter in front of the Planning Commission, Provo-based PEG Companies is seeking approval for a large project that would be located atop the ground where the PCMR parking lots are currently located. PEG Companies earlier reached an agreement with Vail Resorts, the Colorado-based owner of PCMR, to acquire the land for the project. The deal between PEG Companies and Vail Resorts is not expected to be completed until after the talks about the development proposal.
Paul did not delve into details about the sort of acquisition of development rights she envisions, but it seemed that she supported City Hall negotiating to reduce the scope of the proposed project rather than outright purchasing the development rights. That sort of scenario, she seemed to describe, could lead to reduced building heights.
“Maybe this is a crazy thought, OK, but I know when Treasure was on, things went on the ballot. I understand PEG needs to make a certain amount of money and Vail wants to get their money from the property, and we don’t want massive buildings. Could somebody look at what the density would be to keep it at the 35-foot buildings and we put it on the ballot, and people could vote to buy that out. I would buy it out,” she said.
Paul said PEG Companies would earn a return as well under the scenario she described.
“PEG would still make money because they’re not going to pay as much. Vail would still get their money. And we wouldn’t have 100-foot building heights. So, maybe that’s a crazy thought, but it’s still a thought,” she said.
The concept outlined by Paul, even without details, would radically alter the discussions about a development at the PCMR base area if it was to gain momentum. It would require City Hall, PEG Companies and Vail Resorts to support at least initial talks. There would be far-reaching ramifications if a deal was ultimately negotiated. A project would need to be redesigned, the Vail Resorts-PEG Companies agreement would need to be reworked and City Hall would be required to craft a funding mechanism.
An agreement to reduce the amount of development would likely be priced well into the millions of dollars, probably into the eight digits, depending on the amount of rights that would be involved. A City Hall expenditure at that level would be expected to require a ballot measure asking Parkites to approve an increase to property taxes to fund a deal. It would also come in the five years after the municipal government’s two most expensive conservation acquisitions — Treasure and Bonanza Flat.
The dollar value of the deal between Vail Resorts and PEG Companies has not been released. Vail Resorts acquired PCMR in 2014 for $182.5 million. The development rights involved in the Vail Resorts-PEG Companies deal date from the 1990s and went to the Colorado firm at the time of the PCMR acquisition. Their value within the $182.5 million paid by Vail Resorts for PCMR is not known.
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A member of the Park City Planning Commission for at least the second time in less than a year spoke publicly about a concept that would financially involve City Hall in a development proposal at Park City Mountain Resort. Planning Commissioner John Phillips did not address the concept in any depth during a lengthy meeting.