Treasure negotiations nearing another deadline
March 13, 2012
The long-running negotiations between City Hall and the Treasure partnership about a conservation deal appear on the verge of collapsing, a scenario that could result in the partnership pressing forward with a polarizing development application after more than 18 months of conservation talks.
The two sides set in December set a March 19 deadline, next Monday, for the current round of negotiations. It seems certain that no agreement will be reached by Monday. It is also highly unlikely an extension to the March 19 deadline could be negotiated by that date since the Park City Council does not meet this week.
The most recent movement in the Treasure talks came in late December as the partnership delivered to City Hall a nearly $93 million price tag for a complete buyout of the development rights on the hillside acreage on the slopes of Park City Mountain Resort overlooking Old Town. Park City leaders rejected the price.
The sides at that time agreed to the March 19 deadline for an additional round of talks. The discussions were to focus on an idea to shift some of the development rights from the Treasure site itself to a slopeside spot uphill from the Park City Mountain Resort base area. If the talks did not advance, City Hall said in December, officials expected the Treasure side to request a return to its full development application.
Mayor Dana Williams, one of City Hall’s negotiators, said on Monday the negotiating teams for the two sides had not met since about the time the nearly $93 million price tag was made public in December. He said no meetings were planned this week.
"To my knowledge, absolutely nothing," Williams said on Monday in describing what moves are being made this week. "I’m definitely concerned. I had thought the discussions to date had been good."
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Williams by the March 19 deadline had wanted progress made on the talks about shifting some of the development rights and on an idea to redesign the project that would remain at the Treasure site if some of the rights were shifted.
"I expect we’re going to hear something. I can’t second-guess what," the mayor said.
A representative of the Treasure partnership did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment.
It would be a significant setback to the City Hall side if the negotiations collapse and the Treasure side instead returns to the Park City Planning Commission with its development application. If that is the case, critics could question how worthwhile the time spent in negotiations was if the talks end with the Treasure side before the Planning Commission again with the same blueprints as before. The Planning Commission appeared to have deep concerns about the project and might have been preparing to turn down the project.
The Treasure partnership holds development rights on the hillside acreage dating to the 1980s. The Sweeney family, with longtime ties to Park City, secured the rights as part of an overall development approval involving the Treasure land and nearby parcels. A New York City-based investor named Elizabeth Rad leads a firm that purchased a 50 percent stake in Treasure in 2006 from the Sweeney family’s partners.
The Treasure proposal encompasses upward of 1 million square feet of development along the route of the Town Lift. Opponents have said the project would loom over Old Town and neighborhood streets like Lowell Avenue and Empire Avenue would be overrun with traffic headed to and from the Treasure site.