Worried, officials head to D.C.
A delegation of City Hall and Summit County leaders is scheduled to visit Washington, D.C., next week in a late-hour attempt to convince congressmen and Pentagon officials to stop a developer’s plans to build a big hotel on the busy S.R. 248 entryway.
Meanwhile, the presumed developer says he would consider another location for the facility, which would provide lower-priced rates for people in the military family, if an accord could be reached. He says 10 other spots, mostly in Park City and the Snyderville Basin, with one in Wasatch County, have potential.
Next week’s meetings in Washington will likely be a pivotal round in the negotiations regarding the military facility, which have stretched on and off since the late 1990s. The Air Force has eyed Park City since Hill Haus, a military lodge that once was at Snowbasin, was shuttered as that resort expanded in anticipation of the 2002 Winter Olympics.
City Hall has been especially perturbed in recent weeks as the developer, Brent Ferrin, has publicized his intentions to build a large hotel, perhaps up to 600 rooms, on what is known as the Red Maple site. The land, 26 acres that were earlier provided to the military, is situated west of the Park City Ice Arena at Quinn’s Junction.
Ferrin claims he must build a big hotel in order to provide the lower rates for people in the military. He says the Pentagon will not "spend one dime" building the facility, meaning that the developer must fund the construction.
"It’s got to be a good-sized facility to make that happen," he says, describing plans to offer rooms priced as low as $39 per night to the military. "In order to do that, you have to make revenue from somewhere."
Ferrin says the facility would be a condominium-hotel. The units would be sold and the developers would then hire a management company to operate the hotel, including rentals. He says between 20 and 25 percent of the rentals would be for the military.
"What we’re trying to do is create a facility that makes sense," he says.
Ferrin hopes to decide on a site by mid-February.
If an agreement is reached with the local governments for another parcel, it would likely address the Red Maple land, which City Hall has long coveted as open space.
Mayor Dana Williams, who is scheduled to visit Washington with the delegation, claims that Ferrin and the military have been considering the hotel without approaching the local government. He worries about its size compared to what City Hall anticipated. The city once offered the Imperial Hotel on Main Street to the military, a much smaller lodge than what Ferrin describes, but was turned down.
"We’d like to understand how we got from ‘A’ to ‘B’ here," Williams say, adding that the military already enjoys discounts on rooms at participating hotels and receives reduced-price lift tickets.
Williams describes a potential agreement in which ground controlled by Summit County at The Canyons village, where about 200 units are approved as part of the overall Canyons development agreement, is sold to the Air Force. City Hall then wants to purchase the Red Maple parcel from the military. The developer would make up the difference between the two purchases, the mayor says.
City Hall could contribute money, potentially more than $1 million, to the Air Force’s purchase at The Canyons, which he says would be priced at "millions."
Williams says The Canyons is a better spot than Red Maple for a hotel and the zoning there is more appropriate. The Red Maple parcel is currently zoned for open space but since the facility would be constructed on federal land City Hall’s development rules would potentially be negated.
"How does a 600-unit condominium project for sale to the public enhance the potential R & R for the people in the service," the mayor says.
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