Park City Council member Cindy Matsumoto has a recap about last night’s meeting.
A leading Treasure opposition figure on Thursday told Mayor Jack Thomas and the Park City Council people in Park City would support the acquisition of all of the development rights attached to the hillside land, a buyout option the opponents have long desired but one that appears highly unlikely in the weeks after City Hall negotiated a different agreement.
Park City officials addressed Treasure on consecutive days this week as the Planning Commission discussed the project on Wednesday followed by the elected officials on Thursday. The meetings were cordial, something that was particularly notable so shortly after a series of tension-filled Planning Commission gatherings about Treasure. The mayor and City Council earlier in December negotiated an agreement calling for the municipal government to acquire a 50 percent stake in Treasure for $30 million.
The agreement hinges on voters in Park City approving a ballot measure in November to raise the funds needed for the acquisition. If the deal is finalized, City Hall would acquire the Sweeney family’s stake in Treasure while the other side of the Treasure partnership, a firm called Park City II, LLC, would rework a scaled-back development proposal.
It appears there is concern within the Treasure opposition that voters may not authorize the $24 million needed to reach the $30 million total since half of the development rights would remain intact even if the ballot measure passes. City Hall’s popular open space program over the years has been used to acquire land outright or otherwise conserve acreage in perpetuity rather than reducing the scope of a project as in the case of the Treasure deal
Brian Van Hecke, with a group called the Treasure Hill Impact Neighborhood Coalition, on Thursday told the elected officials the tone of the discussions is positive. He said the public would support the acquisition of all of the development rights, but additional rights would remain for a project under the agreement between City Hall and the Treasure partnership. He inquired whether a deal was available to acquire 100 percent of the development rights and asked whether the sides considered tapping a municipal program that allows development rights in certain locations to be shifted to another spot deemed better suited for growth. Van Hecke mentioned the parking lots at Park City Mountain Resort as a place where the Treasure development rights could be shifted.
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The Sweeney family, the traditional owner of the Treasure land overlooking Old Town, may sell its 50 percent stake in the acreage to City Hall.
If that deal, dependent on a ballot measure, is finalized, the holder of the other 50 percent stake in Treasure would become the developer of a scaled-back project.
The Sweeney family’s partner is a firm known as Park City II, LLC. Many people in Park City are familiar with the Sweeney family, a prominent name and the developer of the Town Lift Plaza, but only a few likely have knowledge of Park City II, LLC or its leader, a part-time Park City resident named Elizabeth Rad.
Park City II, LLC and Rad would hold a greatly expanded role if City Hall acquires the Sweeney family’s stake in Treasure should voters in Park City pass a ballot measure. Officials intend to purchase the Sweeney family’s interest for $30 million in a move that would reduce the breadth of the overall development. The deal would largely be funded by a $24 million ballot measure that would be put to voters in November of 2018
At that point, if the ballot measure passes, Park City II, LLC would be left as the developer of a reworked Treasure project. Park City II, LLC has largely been the silent side of the Treasure partnership. Although the firm is represented at Park City Planning Commission meetings about Treasure, it is typically the Sweeney family that addresses the panel.
The Park City Planning Commission, a panel that has spent more than a decade considering the Treasure development proposal with a series of stops and starts, on Wednesday is scheduled to receive a briefing about possibilities for the hillside land should the project be reimagined as a smaller proposal.
The panel is not expected to dwell on details since a redone application has not been submitted, but Planning Commissioners on Wednesday could provide some insight to their thinking about a development. The Park City Council the next day is poised to discuss Treasure as well during a meeting that will include members of the Planning Commission. The two gatherings could set a tone as the sides press ahead with the Treasure talks in 2018.
The Treasure proposal the Planning Commission tabled earlier in December involved upward of 1 million square feet while a reimagined project would be greatly reduced in scope and include a boutique hotel and houses. A redone project hinges on Park City voters in 2018 approving a $24 million ballot measure to acquire a 50 percent stake in Treasure. If the ballot measure fails, the project would be expected to return to the Planning Commission in a slightly reduced form.
Bruce Erickson, the planning director at City Hall, said the Treasure side on Wednesday is expected to present initial ideas for a development that is half the size of the one that was under consideration before it was tabled.
Park City Manager Diane Foster and Assistant City Manager Matt Dias have a preview of the agenda for Thursday’s city council meeting, including a discussion on the new Treasure proposal.
Park City leaders on Wednesday evening added even more drama to the long-running discussions about Treasure when it was announced that a late-hour effort is underway to reach some sort of deal, perhaps a conservation agreement, involving the land.
Mayor Jack Thomas and Park City Councilor Andy Beerman, who is the mayor-elect, appeared before the Park City Planning Commission to inform the panel that talks have been underway privately.
It is not known whether an agreement will be reached, but City Hall will continue to consider Treasure as if a vote is fast approaching, perhaps by the end of the year if an accord is not finalized. A Park City Planning Commission vote on Treasure would be the most notable development decision made at City Hall since the project now known as Empire Pass was approved nearly 20 years ago.
But a Treasure vote by the Planning Commission would almost certainly not end the talks about the project, which is proposed on a hillside overlooking Old Town along the route of the Town Lift. A vote instead would be expected to trigger an unorthodox appeal process.
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A prominent figure in the Treasure opposition group said the best outcome of the late-hour negotiations between City Hall and the development partnership would be the preservation of the hillside land as open space.
It would be a scenario the critics of the project have long desired but one that seemed highly unlikely until it was acknowledged on Wednesday that Park City officials and the Treasure side have been engaged in closed-door talks about an unspecified agreement regarding the project.
The Treasure Hill Impact Neighborhood Coalition has led the opposition to the development proposal, forming in response to the discussions about the project, sending representatives to testify at Park City Planning Commission meetings over the years and retaining a law firm to press Treasure issues.
Brian Van Hecke, one of the founders of the group and an Empire Avenue resident, said in an interview the desired result of the negotiations is the preservation of the entire property as open space. The Treasure partnership, consisting of the Sweeney family and a firm called Park City II, LLC, would “receive a fair return on their investment that honors their property rights, their true property rights.”
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The Park City Planning Commission approved the one week continuance for the Treasure Hill project but Chair Adam Strachan told KPCW either way, they’re making a decision on the 13th. KPCW’s Melissa Allison has more.
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