Whiskey distiller bid wins council support
Park City Council has selected Quaking Aspen Distillers, a boutique whiskey distillery, as the preferred buyer for the city-owned National Garage and two-story home on Park Ave. Council also chose another bidder for the Woodside Avenue home, which is part of the parcel. The public announcement comes by way of an official press release Thursday afternoon, in which the city trumpets their choice of “the first legal distiller in the state of Utah since Prohibition.” City staff reports it will soon begin the negotiation of the distillery’s contract for a purchase price of $1,435,000. According to Quaking Aspen Distillers managing member David Perkins, the property will house a working, visitor-friendly micro-distillery to handcraft Rocky Mountain Bourbon Whiskey. The concept is to use the community landmark to create an educational tour highlighting the process of distillation and filtration as it relates to the pioneers’ history in the West. According to City Councilwoman Marianne Cone, the distiller was chosen, in part, because council wanted to maintain public access to the building. “[Quaking Aspen Distillers] is something resort-oriented. It’s unique and [David Perkins] does have a plan and things pretty much fleshed out,” she explained. The parcel features the fading historic National Garage with an adjacent green house, and a home at 664 Woodside Avenue, which has been rented by the Bertinelli family for a decade. In August, the main house was appraised at $815,000, the garage at $620,000 and the Woodside Avenue house at $485,000. Council received 13 proposals for the real estate in September, including one submitted by the Bertinellis. Park City Special Events and Facilities Coordinator Alison Butz said the bid for the Woodside Avenue house is $575,000, submitted by a Coldwell Banker realtor on the bidder’s behalf. The Bertinellis will have some time before they need to leave their home, according to Butz. “The lease says we need to provide them with 30 days written notice to end tenancy. We certainly don’t want a situation where we’re putting people on the street in the middle of winter,” she said. Another bid belonged to five-year Park City resident Peter Roberts, an artist who sought the garage as a location for a glass blowing studio. Thursday evening, Roberts thanked each council member individually at a public hearing, despite not winning the council’s vote. “I really want to stress my thanking the council and the staff members was genuine. They seriously considered my proposal and that was a very sincere thank you to them,” he told The Park Record. “They spent a lot of time and I appreciate that. It was a three-year project.” and as a matter of fact, the city was not doing anything with it, and it was as a result of my inquiries that they issued the first request for proposals.” The city bought the parcel from Burnis Watts in 1997 for $920,000, and since then, the city has been just sitting on the property and not doing anything with it, Roberts said. “It was just ideal. Being located directly across the street form the town lift,” Roberts explained about the property. Roberts says his plan was to allow visitors into the studio to watch him create his glass artwork, and teach glass blowing classes. Additionally, he planned to give the Bertinelli’s the opportunity to purchase their home, he says. “I had several options on my bid and one of those options was to purchase the Bertinelli’s property and sell it immediately to them. I didn’t want these people to lose their homes because they wanted to stay there and I feel badly about that,” he said. Though he had not heard the news of the whiskey distillery’s acceptance, Roberts did hear that his bid was rejected in a letter Wednesday. Roberts called the Bertinellis to apologize, he says. “I called the Bertinellis and we spoke earlier today and I apologized to them. It was as a result of my inquiries that this process began and the last thing I wanted to do was for them to lose their home of 10 years. I feel badly about that,” he said. Since City Hall can legally discuss buying and selling property behind closed doors, the public was privy only to a few details surrounding the bidding. There was another proposal made public by Promontory development managing director Rich Sonntag, who said he wanted to turn the property into a private lodge for the people who live in his development. Alison Butz stressed that the acceptance of the proposals did not mean that the deals had been finalized. Park City Council will hold a public hearing Dec. 22 before the selected offers have been officially accepted.
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Gretchen Milliken started as the Park City planning director at the beginning of February. Like many others in the community, she sees the amount of traffic as a challenge.