Treasure, unexpectedly, says it will refine project
The square footage, a key concern, could drop slightly
THE PARK RECORD
The Treasure development partnership on Wednesday indicated it is refining the details of the project in response to broad concerns by the Park City Planning Commission and people who live close to the site, an unexpected move after consistent statements by the partnership that it desired a vote on the proposal as it is designed now.
The partnership informed the Planning Commission of the refinements during a meeting that was otherwise largely uneventful. It was the second consecutive Planning Commission meeting about the project that the Treasure side made a surprise statement, following a March declaration that the partnership, consisting of the Sweeney family and a firm called Park City II, LLC, intends to force a vote by the panel in the fall.
The Treasure representatives did not provide details about the refinements as they spoke to the Planning Commission. In an interview after the meeting, Pat Sweeney, who represents his family in the Treasure discussions, said the alterations to the project have not been finalized. He said, though, the refinements could drop the overall square footage of Treasure “a modest amount.”
The proposal currently involves a little more than 1 million square feet on a hillside overlooking Old Town close to the route of the Town Lift. The project is designed with a series of structures made to look like individual buildings but are connected via an underground garage. Sweeney said the refinements will eliminate two of the structures. The square footage of the structures would be shifted to an unspecified location within the project meant to address the concerns of the Planning Commission and others, he said. The panel has struggled with the square footage and the overall bulk of the proposal.
“You take those buildings out and move that square footage elsewhere. What it does is condenses the project,” Sweeney said in an interview.
He said a rendering of the refined proposal will be prepared for a Planning Commission scheduled in May, allowing the partnership to show the current plan and the refined one next to each other.
Sweeney said the partnership considered a refinement for several months before the statement on Wednesday. The Treasure side has spent more than a decade in on-and-off discussions with the Planning Commission with limited progress. The details have been reconsidered over the course of the discussions, including one significant redesign early on, but there did not appear to be a willingness by the Treasure side to modify the current proposal until the Wednesday meeting.
“I was pretty dug in,” Sweeney conceded, adding, “The design team convinced me we should take one more whack at it.”
He said the refinements are meant to address a range of concerns expressed by the Planning Commission, including the size of the required excavation, the overall size of the project and the amount of square footage meant for the operations of a high-end hotel. The Planning Commission and project critics spent months seizing on issues like those during an especially difficult review of the square footage. The refinements also address the designs for parking in an effort to create efficiencies, he said.
It is not clear what sort of reaction the refinements will receive from the Planning Commission and project critics. There have been deep-rooted concerns about square footage throughout the current round of Treasure discussions and during the earlier ones. The square footage question is especially critical since other important topics like the designs and project-related traffic hinge on the number.
It is likely the Planning Commission meeting about Treasure planned in May will prove crucial to the overall talks. Details about the refinements are expected to be presented at that meeting as well as the results of much-anticipated traffic study. The partnership counted cars at several key intersections in February and intends to forward the results to City Hall prior to the May meeting. The Treasure side, Planning Commissioners and the opposition are awaiting the results, and it seems that the various sides could interpret the numbers differently.
The acknowledgement that the Treasure side is refining the plans was the highlight of the meeting on Wednesday, but the Planning Commission also started to work its way through a series of other issues after spending months on square footage and traffic. The Treasure representatives outlined landscaping plans but lacked information about the species of trees that will be planted. They also touted the portion of the Treasure land that would remain undeveloped. The Treasure side briefly addressed plans for signs and lighting as well.
The Planning Commission also discussed noise that would emanate from the site, a concern of the opposition since the Treasure land is located close to Old Town streets like Lowell Avenue and Empire Avenue. Sweeney told the Planning Commission a “well-designed acoustical fence” would be built to protect the neighborhood from noise. Materials that absorb sound would be used in the project, Sweeney said, adding that the people who would be staying at Treasure will not want a noisy environment.
“We are our closest neighbors,” he said.
The Planning Commission held a brief hearing, taking testimony from two people. Nicole Deforge, an attorney representing an opposition group called the Treasure Hill Impact Neighborhood Coalition, expressed concern about what she described as a lack of information made available by the Treasure side prior to meetings and the proximity of the project to residences. She said the project is “much, much closer” to residences than was contemplated earlier.
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Park City leaders recently added a layer of protection to the City Hall-owned Treasure acreage overlooking Old Town. The Park City Council took one in a series of procedural steps that are needed as officials finalize the open space status of the municipal government’s most expensive conservation acquisition.