Treasure: ‘a real deal’ possible in waning days of Williams administration
December 7, 2013
It appears there is still a possibility City Hall and the Treasure partnership could reach an agreement about the development before the end of the year and the upcoming change in mayor’s office.
Neither side, though, offered details about the prospects this week even as the window for a deal before Mayor Dana Williams leaves office quickly shrinks. Williams, in his third term, leaves office in early January after having not sought re-election to a fourth term this year.
There are two more Park City Council meetings scheduled before he leaves office, on Dec. 12 and Dec. 19, and Williams and others have appeared to want to reach an agreement before the change in administration. Jack Thomas, a member of the Park City Planning Commission who has been involved in that panel’s discussions about Treasure, will succeed Williams.
Jonathan Weidenhamer, who directs City Hall’s economic development efforts and is assigned to the discussions, said on Thursday the Treasure partnership is considering its options.
He said the partnership is continuing to attempt to craft a deal with City Hall to shift half of the development rights from the Treasure site itself to another location and allow the other half to be developed on the Treasure land. That idea has been under discussion for months, but only limited information has been made public recently.
"The ball’s really in their court, to see if they can structure, put together, a proposal," Weidenhamer said.
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A City Hall program allowing certain landowners to shift development rights from one location to another one, largely created in an effort to craft a Treasure agreement, remains critical to the negotiations.
Some of the places where development rights are allowed to be shifted toward include Bonanza Park, the Snow Creek commercial area and Snow Park. Weidenhamer declined to discuss whether creating additional so-called receiving zones is being considered as a part of the Treasure talks. He said, though, there are landowners willing to consider purchasing some of the development rights attached to the Treasure land, which is situated on a hillside overlooking Old Town along the route of the Town Lift. He declined to identify the landowners.
"I think there’s a real deal out there to be had," Weidenhamer said.
He said weekly meetings between City Hall officials and the Treasure partnership have been held since the early in the summer. City Manager Diane Foster and City Attorney Mark Harrington also represent City Hall in the talks, Weidenhamer said.
"I think we’re at the eleventh hour. I think time’s getting tight" to reach an agreement before Williams leaves office, he said.
Ed Sweeney, who represents his family’s stake in the Treasure partnership, declined to comment, saying information would be released by Weidenhamer. The Sweeney family is the historic owner of the Treasure acreage and has represented the project through the planning process. The land is now in a partnership with the Sweeney family holding a 50 percent stake.
It is not clear what would happen if a deal is not reached before the end of the year. Thomas has a detailed understanding of Treasure, and the City Council will retain four of its five members. The newcomer will be Tim Henney. He will replace Alex Butwinski in January as a result of the November election.
If an agreement is not in place before the newcomers take office, it seems likely City Hall staffers early in the year would discuss with the elected officials whether to continue the negotiations in a similar fashion, alter them or end them. If they are ended, the Treasure partnership would almost certainly re-engage the Planning Commission in talks about the full project at the site overlooking Old Town.
There is long-running concern about Treasure by some Parkites, particularly those who live on streets like Empire Avenue and Lowell Avenue. They say the full project could overwhelm the neighborhood with traffic and the buildings would loom over the neighborhood.
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