The former Colby School site is up for sale while its owners pursue permit in court
Asking $5.5M, agent says future plans key to sale
The former Colby School, a stately Victorian-style mansion just east of S.R. 224 that has sat empty for years, is up for sale, the owners’ latest attempt to capitalize on their investment even as their last-ditch effort to salvage a planned bed-and-breakfast is working its way through district court.
The property is listed for $5.5 million, according to listing agent John Travis, and the owners have issued a call for offers due Monday. Travis said he has seen strong interest in the property, which encompasses the home, outbuildings and 5 acres of land just east of S.R. 224 near the entrance to the Canyons Village base area of Park City Mountain Resort.
“It’s great, I’ve been showing it probably four to five times a week,” Travis said.
He expects a handful of strong offers by Monday. The owners are asking would-be buyers to disclose their plans for the land, and Travis indicated those plans will be a major point in evaluating offers. He indicated a sale might be contingent on those plans being approved by the county.
Summit County has rejected the current owners’ bid to use the property as a bed-and-breakfast, with the County Council and Snyderville Basin Planning Commission determining that their application did not satisfy the requirement that the bed-and-breakfast be “owner-occupied.”
It was the latest setback in a sometimes contentious process that has seen the county reject a series of proposals from owner Hoffvest LLC dating back to an ambitious hotel and event center concept in 2015.
“I’m letting people know, the county already turned them down because they don’t physically live on the property,” Travis said. “Whoever does come in with a bed-and-breakfast use, again, I’m making it clear to them, the county is going to want you to live there.”
Travis said a sale would likely include language conditioning the sale on the new owners getting Summit County’s approval for their plans. That would incentivize Hoffvest LLC to select a bid that includes a use for the land that is explicitly allowed by county code.
The land is zoned rural residential, which allows it to be used as a daycare, home-based business or single-family home, among other options. Many other uses, including that of a bed-and-breakfast, are allowed only with conditional approval by the county’s land-use authorities.
The building began its life in the 1980s as a small hotel, and the current owners have tried for years to use the property for commercial projects after buying it in late 2014. The plans have met with consistent opposition from neighbors who say the commercial uses would threaten the residential feel of the nearby neighborhoods.
The plans have been winnowed from a 55-unit hotel and event center concept in 2015 to an eight-room bed-and-breakfast in 2020. The rejection of the bed-and-breakfast proposal is the subject of current litigation.
Travis said he hasn’t seen any interest from potential buyers in using the property as a single-family home.
“That surprises me,” he said. “It just seems like, in this market where we don’t have much inventory, a 5.9-acre property right across the street from the Canyons — it’s quiet, really, it’s got some nice buildings on it, you think it might be an estate.”
The listing shows 12 bedrooms in the Victorian-style house, which Travis said was about 10,000 square feet. Combined with the outbuildings, the listing shows just shy of 16,000 square feet.
Travis said the property needs substantial work to make it habitable. The owners proposed significant renovations as they sought to turn it into a bed-and-breakfast.
The last time the mansion was inhabited may have been 2017, when it briefly and illegally housed up to 50 seasonal ski resort workers.
The Victorian home was built in the 1980s and approved to be used as a small hotel in 1985, which was called the Snowed Inn. In 2001, the Colby School began using the site, ceasing operations there in 2008.
1985 – Site approved for the Snowed Inn, a small hotel
2001 – Colby School begins operations there
2008 – Colby School ceases operations
December 2014 – Hoffvest, LLC acquires the property
December 2015 – Hoffvest applies for 13-acre, 55-room hotel and cabin complex with a 5,000-square-foot restaurant
May 2016 – Application scaled back to include three cabin rooms, 33 hotel rooms and a multi-use building
March 2017 – Summit County issues notice to vacate for around 50 temporary workers living at site
December 2017 – The Snyderville Basin Planning Commission grants a permit for a 15-room hotel, 5,000-square-foot restaurant and yoga and fitness studios at the site
March 2018 – The County Council rescinds the permit
May 2018 – Owners file lawsuit
June 2019 – Lawsuit dismissed
June 2020 – Planning Commission rejects application for eight-room bed and breakfast
A previous lawsuit between the owners and Summit County was dismissed in 2019. It centered on a permit the county granted in 2017 and then rescinded in 2018 for a 15-room hotel and 5,000-square-foot restaurant concept that also included yoga and fitness studios. The owners applied months later to use the building as a bed-and-breakfast.
They indicated in the development process that the site might be used for events like weddings, though the plans appeared less ambitious than previous proposals, which specifically contemplated hosting events.
Travis called the property iconic to the area and said it was sad that it has sat unused for so long.
“It’s a place that anybody that’s lived here for a period of time just knows that property and has memories from it,” he said. “… When I take people through, it’s not uncommon for people to say ‘The last time I was here I sat right in this spot and had a brunch.’”
Travis is optimistic for a sale, though he said the public permitting fight hurt the process, saying it has made people skeptical about what might be approved there.
“I think it’s just a great property and I’m hoping that once we find the right buyer, it will turn into something that really can be used and be an asset to Park City and to our community,” he said.
Summit County has until Feb. 19 to reply to the initial lawsuit, and an attorney for Hoffvest LLC indicated the appeal is still active.
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The Snyderville Basin Planning Commission heard overwhelmingly negative feedback on a proposal to build a 27-building apartment complex near the Highland Estates neighborhood.