Mile Post 2020: Designs on change
The owner of Park City Mountain Resort by the late 1990s was ready to upgrade a base area that many did not see as befitting a top-tier ski area.
Colorado-based Vail Resorts years later acquired PCMR in a settlement of a high-profile lawsuit centered on the PCMR lease of the land underlying most of the terrain. The lots and the attached development rights went to a hotel, residences, employee housing, units set aside as affordable, retailers and restaurants. There would be large garages built to account for the parking spots lost as the lots are built upon.
The 2002 Winter Olympics were approaching, with PCMR as a skiing and snowboarding venue, and skiing and the broader Utah tourism industry appeared poised for growth.
Powdr Corp. acquired the resort, then known as Park City Ski Area, earlier in the 1990s and shortly started to consider the long-range future. A key was the potential to develop the base area, something that could transform the resort for the coming decades.
In the late 1990s, Powdr Corp. secured a broad development approval from City Hall. There was limited resistance at the time, as many in Park City saw a project involving sections of the existing base area as well as the parking lots as a development that would advance the ski industry in a spot where growth seemed to fit.
The Legacy Lodge and Marriott’s MountainSide were built soon after the City Hall approval of the overall project, but PCMR and Powdr Corp. did not immediately pursue the other rights. The rest of the development rights, attached to the vast PCMR parking lots, remained intact over the years, as the Park City area experienced a boom era.
Colorado-based Vail Resorts years later acquired PCMR in a settlement of a high-profile lawsuit centered on the PCMR lease of the land underlying most of the terrain. The lots and the attached development rights went to Vail Resorts when it acquired PCMR in 2014 for $182.5 million. Vail Resorts, though, sees its focus as operating mountain resorts rather than development and in 2019 reached an agreement to sell the lots to a Provo developer, called PEG Companies.
Robert Schmidt, the vice president of development at PEG Companies, at the time the deal was announced described the lots as unique in North American skiing. He said then the land at PCMR is among the continent’s last substantial base-area ground available for development of the scope contemplated.
“Any opportunity to be at the base of a resort of the caliber of Park City Mountain Resort — that’s unique,” Schmidt said at the time.
The deal between Vail Resorts and PEG Companies is not expected to be finalized until after a decision is made on a development proposal put to the Park City Planning Commission. The talks are ongoing between PEG Companies and the Planning Commission. It appears a Planning Commission vote could be cast in coming months, but a timeline for a decision is not certain.
The 10-acre development proposal involves a hotel, residences, employee housing, units set aside as affordable, retailers and restaurants. There would be large garages built to account for the parking spots lost as the lots are built upon.
The Planning Commission must address a range of issues before casting a vote, including the broad transportation blueprints, the locations of the buildings and the overall designs.
There is some resistance from people who live nearby, or who own places in the vicinity of PCMR, and others. They are worried about the prospects of large buildings and traffic increases, among other issues. A longtime development watchdog, Rich Wyman, during a Planning Commission meeting last summer was especially critical even as he acknowledged there is a chance Parkites could eventually support a project that is a benefit to the community.
“I think the designs are seriously flawed. They don’t fit anywhere within Park City, especially not in Old Town or the base of the resort. The buildings are massive, bulky, unattractive,” Wyman told the Planning Commission.
The first buildings involved in the 1990s development approval date to the era of the Winter Olympics of 2002. As Utah pursues a second Games, it could be that the final buildings from that 1990s approval will date to another Olympic era.
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