Treasure opposition sees a ‘giant Emerald City’ above Old Town
The Treasure partnership has returned to City Hall.
The Treasure opposition also intends to return.
Treasure over the past decade became the most polarizing development proposal in Park City since the 1990s-era discussions about the project that was built as Empire Pass. After a hiatus that lasted upward of six years, the Treasure partnership recently indicated it wanted to re-engage the Park City Planning Commission with the project and has outlined a timeline toward a desired panel vote in September.
The partnership will return to the Planning Commission with the same project designs as the ones under consideration previously. There were concerns in the neighborhood and among some of the Planning Commissioners at the time about the proposal.
The Treasure opposition group quickly indicated it remains concerned with the project. The group, known as the Treasure Hill Impact Neighborhood Coalition, or THINC, has a core group of members who live close to the project site and has long said people from outside the neighborhood are also involved. The group formed during the earlier round of discussions about Treasure, attending meetings and operating a website. There was little public activity by the group during the lengthy hiatus in the Treasure talks.
Brian Van Hecke, the founder of the opposition group and an Empire Avenue resident, noted in an interview that the Treasure partnership returned with the same designs. The Treasure Hill Impact Neighborhood Coalition has long been displeased with the designs.
"It’s extremely disappointing," Van Hecke said, adding, "We feared this would be the outcome."
The group had wanted City Hall and the Treasure partnership to reach a conservation deal that would have transferred some or all of the development off the Treasure site itself, perhaps to the base area at Park City Mountain Resort. The talks between City Hall and the Treasure side regarding a conservation agreement were unsuccessful, however.
Van Hecke outlined a series of concerns that are similar to those expressed by the group earlier. He said the development proposal is too large for the site, indicated the traffic would overwhelm neighborhood roads and said there is a series of environmental concerns such as issues involving mining-era contamination, the anticipated Treasure excavation and the impact on the water table.
"The scale and scope does not make sense . . . You’re going to basically have a giant Emerald City looming over Old Town," Van Hecke said.
He discussed the traffic Treasure is anticipated to generate, one of the key concerns during the earlier discussions between the partnership and the Planning Commission. He said Lowell Avenue and Empire Avenue – two streets where Treasure-related traffic is expected to be significant – are already busy with automobile traffic and pedestrians.
"The neighborhood streets don’t support this dense of a project," he said.
Van Hecke said the Treasure Hill Impact Neighborhood Coalition plans to update its members about the upcoming discussions. There were approximately 500 people involved in the group previously, he said, describing that the membership was roughly split between people who live in Old Town and those who reside elsewhere. He said the impacts of Treasure would stretch throughout Park City rather than be limited to Old Town.
The Treasure site is located on a hillside overlooking Old Town along the route of the Town Lift. The Sweeney family secured an overall approval for development on the Treasure land and nearby parcels in the 1980s. The Treasure site is now owned by a partnership involving the Sweeney family and an investor. The Treasure proposal involves approximately 1 million square feet, including approximately 200 hotel rooms, approximately 100 condominiums and conference space.
The Treasure side made only limited progress during its talks with the Planning Commission during the earlier round of discussions. The Planning Commission roster has changed substantially since the talks broke off. It is not clear whether the panel will adhere to the scheduled outlined by the Treasure side.
Van Hecke expressed concerns about the Treasure partnership’s proposed timeline, saying it does not seem feasible based on the history of the project and its scope. He said it is important for the Planning Commission to set the schedule.
"I think it’s a mistake on their part to try to force a timeline," Van Hecke said.
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Park City leaders next week plan to showcase a City Hall workforce or otherwise restricted housing development in Old Town, highlighting one of what is expected to be a series of significant municipal projects in coming years.