Treasure numbers confound Park City panel
The Park City Planning Commission, continuing to consider the critical question of the square footage sought by the Treasure development partnership, did not appear to be close to making a determination at a meeting on Wednesday night as wide-ranging numbers were mentioned but not agreed upon.
The eventual decision regarding square footage will be one of the most important made by the panel since the number will heavily influence other Treasure discussions, such as those focused on traffic and building designs. The Treasure partnership seeks an approval for just more than 1 million square feet of development. That figure, though, has been challenged for years as critics argue that a 1980s overall approval granted for development on the Treasure land and nearby parcels did not envision a project of the size that the partnership wants approved.
The Planning Commission on Wednesday night was not prepared to make a decision on square footage, and not all the panelists offered detailed numbers. The two Planning Commissioners who provided potential square footages indicated the number could be less than the just more than 1 million square feet claimed by the Treasure partnership, which consists of the Sweeney family – the historic owner of the property – and a firm called Park City II, LLC.
Douglas Thimm, a Planning Commissioner, mentioned a square footage of perhaps 897,491 or 979,314. Laura Suesser, another Planning Commissioner, though, pegged the possible number at approximately 628,000. Suesser questioned the Treasure side’s calculations of a square-footage category that involves space needed to operate a high-end lodging property, known as support commercial. That category of square footage has been repeatedly challenged by critics of Treasure.
The range between what the Treasure developers want approved and the two square footages described by Thimm and Suesser is likely a preview of a difficult discussion during upcoming meetings about the project. A wide discrepancy between the Treasure side and the Planning Commission regarding square footage has seemed to be a probable outcome as panelists have appeared to have deep-rooted concerns about the developer’s numbers during recent meetings.
It was not clear how the numbers offered by the two Planning Commissioners will be molded into the overall discussion about square footage. It was also not clear whether the other Planning Commissioners will identify a number at an upcoming meeting.
The numbers provided by the two Planning Commissioners were one of the highlights of a lengthy afternoon and evening centered on Treasure. The Treasure developers in the late afternoon led a tour of the acreage, which overlooks Old Town and is located along the route of the Town Lift. The developers, the Planning Commission and the public then reconvened at the Santy Auditorium at the Park City Library for the meeting and a hearing.
The hearing covered similar topics as earlier ones as Treasure opponents continued to outline broad criticism of the size of Treasure. Critics claim Old Town has changed dramatically in the decades since the 1980s overall approval and a project the size of Treasure would overwhelm the neighborhood.
John Stafsholt, who lives on Woodside Avenue and is involved with a Treasure opposition group called the Treasure Hill Impact Neighborhood Coalition, said the proposal would be out of scale in Old Town.
“The hill is in historic Old Town,” Stafsholt said, describing that there has never been strong support for the project.
He worried about the excavation the project would require. He said there would be “vertical scars” on the hillside as a result of the Treasure excavation.
Jim Tedford, representing a group known as Preserve Historic Main Street, said Treasure modifications are needed to ensure the historic district is protected.
“We have to take care of Main Street,” Tedford said.
Others who testified argued that Treasure would bring down nearby real estate values, noted the changes in Park City since the 1980s, such as the development of lower Main Street, and said there are concerns that talks have been held about Treasure outside of the Planning Commission meetings.
Some members of the Planning Commission, meanwhile, remained worried about the square footage. Planning Commissioner Steve Joyce, who has been especially critical, said he was not sure how the developers could address the issues of a project the size of Treasure. John Phillips, a Planning Commissioner, said he wants the factual basis of Treasure stressed rather than reviews of comments made between the sides years ago.
The Planning Commission is scheduled to discuss Treasure again at a meeting on Oct. 12, continuing a pace of once-a-month meetings with the project on the agenda.
The tour of the Treasure land on Wednesday drew a crowd of several dozen interested Parkites, project critics, City Hall staffers and the development team. The tour visited some of the sites where development is proposed. The sites were marked with stakes. The Treasure side described building elevations and pointed out the location, close to a historic mining-era relic, where a people mover could be built.
People in the crowd yelled questions about topics like building elevations. The Treasure side provided some information, but the City Hall planner assigned to the project eventually requested the questioning stop based on time constraints.
It was the first tour led by the Treasure developers since 2009, during an earlier round of talks about the project.
The tunnel and aerial ideas along S.R. 248 would run into the tens of millions of dollars and, with near certainty, become controversial as Parkites weigh the traffic backups of today against the cost and significant re-imagining of the entryway that the ideas would produce.
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