The Mountain Lab can be yours
March 1, 2011
One of Park City’s most unique properties is for sale. Ken Block’s DC Mountain Lab is looking for a buyer in The Ranches at The Preserve near Glenwild.
Block is the founder of the DC Shoes company that sold to Quicksilver in 2004. He built a snowboarding terrain park outside his home on a 22-acre parcel that was the setting for two professional snowboarding movies.
Now Block is looking to sell the parcel. Unfortunately it no longer looks as it did in the videos.
The DC Mountain Lab has been the cause of some arguments over the years, so to make peace Block agreed to remove man-made obstacles such as jumps and rails.
Realtor Paul Benson is courting buyers with the remaining rope tow serving 10 runs. There is also a four-bedroom, 3,800-square-foot guest house and a building pad for a larger home.
One person who would like to see the park completely dismantled is Kirkpatrick MacDonald, one of the original developers of part of The Red Hawk Wildlife Preserve Foundation, now known as The Ranches at The Preserve.
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He said Block never sought permission from the homeowners association to build the park, and it violates the association’s CC&Rs.
"We were not happy about it then," he said, "and we want the land returned to its original state, as Mr. Block has agreed."
Block’s May 2008 agreement with the Ranches’ homeowners association required that he remove all man-made, non-organic obstacles and return the lots to their condition on the date when Block acquired the Lots a solution MacDonald described as entirely equitable for all concerned.
The agreement excludes the rope tow and the landscaping, which Summit County’s Community Development Office permitted.
Brad Krassner, president of the homeowner association, said Block has complied with all agreements and is now in good standing with the association.
"We’ve looked at Ken as a pioneering sort of person up where we live," he said.
Krassner said MacDonald’s frustration with the park stems from his desire to sell lots nearby in The Preserve and consequently his desire to preserve the look and brand of the neighborhood.
"We see ourselves as an easy going community. The Preserve is trying to sell lots and we’re trying to live together," he explained.
Krassner’s memory is that the DC Mountain Lab was permitted before the association was formed and is now grandfathered in.
MacDonald said his frustration with the park is not so much its incongruity, but its usage. Block formerly used it commercially to promote DC Shoes, which violated association covenants and zoning regulations, he said.
Dave Allen, a former director Summit County Community Development, said he recalls the situation and required that Block not invite clients to enjoy the park.
"We agreed he could continue to operate the hill as long as it was private," Allen said.
As the property is marketed, MacDonald said he warns that if the new owner intends to use the park as Block did, the Ranches and Preserve associations will "oppose this in a most forceful manner."
"The story here is how such a unique property… just a few minutes out of town with a rope tow and groomed ski runs is able to stay so ‘under the radar’ and offer the privacy and security that this property offers," Benson said via email. "It makes a statement about how far Park City has come by being able to attract people that would build something like this here verses Aspen."
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