There is no Treasure deal as mayor prepares to leave office
December 17, 2013
City Hall and the Treasure partnership did not reach an agreement on the project in time for a Thursday meeting of the Park City Council, the last one Dana Williams will preside over as mayor.
The Treasure question will be perhaps the highest-profile piece of city business that will be left unresolved when Williams leaves office in early January after three terms. Treasure has been before City Hall in some fashion since 2004, covering most of Williams’ time in office.
It seemed in recent weeks that it could be difficult for Park City officials and representatives of the partnership to craft an agreement by the time Williams left office. Williams, though, has said he wanted to reach a Treasure deal or at least a detailed outline of one before his retirement from politics. He did not seek re-election to a fourth term and will leave office in early January.
The lack of a deal was acknowledged when the agenda for Thursday’s City Council meeting was released midday Monday without Treasure listed as one of the items the elected officials would address. The meeting is the last one scheduled before the change in mayoral administrations. Jack Thomas will ascend from the Park City Planning Commission to the mayor’s office to succeed Williams.
Williams came to political prominence leading a development watchdog, playing a key role as an activist in the 1990s brokering of a deal on the project that would be built as Empire Pass. Treasure is seen as being among the most difficult development questions Park City has faced since Empire Pass.
"Of course I feel we did what we could," Williams said about Treasure, adding, "I’m just sorry we couldn’t get it done, but I’m not upset about it because I don’t think the efforts stop."
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The Treasure land is situated on a hillside overlooking Old Town along the route of the Town Lift. It sits just off Lowell Avenue and Empire Avenue. The Sweeney family in the 1980s secured development rights on the Treasure acreage and nearby parcels. Treasure is now under the ownership of the Sweeney family and a partner.
The Sweeney family nearly 10 years ago started its discussions with City Hall about Treasure, envisioned as upward of 1 million square feet of development along the route of the Town Lift. The family made little progress in its talks with the Planning Commission as panel members expressed concerns about traffic and the size of the buildings proposed, among other worries. There are similar concerns in the neighborhood.
As the Treasure side and the Planning Commission reached a stalemate, the mayor and City Council became involved by taking on an unorthodox role. The elected officials entered into negotiations with the Treasure partnership focused on the possibility of shifting half of the development rights from the Treasure land itself to another location seen as better suited for development. Those discussions are ongoing, and little has been made public about the talks in recent months. The negotiating sessions are held in private.
Williams said the idea of shifting half of the development rights continues to be the major sticking point in the talks. The mayor and others involved have declined to discuss the details. It is not known if the difficulties in the talks are based on the location to where the development rights could be moved or another point related to a shift.
The mayor described the discussions as a "relatively difficult real estate transaction." He said the prospects remain good that an agreement will be reached later, perhaps during the first quarter of 2014.
It is not clear what sort of movement will happen on Treasure starting in early 2014. It seems likely that City Hall staffers will brief the elected officials shortly after Thomas and incoming City Councilor Tim Henney take office. At that point, the elected officials would be asked whether the discussions should continue in the same fashion, whether they should continue but with a new direction or whether they should be halted.
A representative of the Sweeney family did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment. The family recently has directed questions about the negotiations to City Hall.