Park City resort says rival trying to shut it down
Suit • Resort accuses companies that own Canyons of trying to kick it off leased land.
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Park City Mountain Resort is suing two companies that own part of the land on which it operates, claiming they are trying to shut it down.

Plaintiffs identified as Greater Park City Company and Greater Properties Inc. filed a lawsuit in 3rd District Court Friday against United Park City Mines Company and Talisker Land Holdings LLC, which owns Canyons resort.

The suit claims the defendants are motivated by "Talisker's desire to eliminate the resort as The Canyons' principal competitor."

At the center of the dispute is whether Park City Mountain Resort must vacate because the leases under which it has operated for more than 40 years expired on April 30, 2011.

The defendants say the leases expired because the resort did not give written notice of its intent to extend those agreements.

The resort, however, claims it gave the defendants "unequivocal notification that it intended to extend the agreements for an additional 40 years, to the year 2051," the lawsuit states.

The initial lease from the early 1970s ran to 1991 and it was then extended for another 20 years to 2011, the lawsuit says.

Over all those years, the resort operators have invested more than $100 million on the leased land, the lawsuit states.

From 2009 through 2011, United Park City Mines, Talisker and Park City Mountain Resort officials talked about investment projects including the potential of interconnection of Park City Mountain Resort and The Canyons, the suit states.

Those discussions were based on the companies' understanding that the resort intended to operate on the leased land through 2051, the lawsuit states. Thinking it would be on the land for the next 40 years, the resort began making improvements that now total more than $7 million, court documents say.

The resort claims that on April 30, 2011, and in "subsequent written communication," it gave the defendants written confirmation that the leases had been extended and continued to pay its rent, the lawsuit says.

But in December 2011, the lawsuit says, the two companies told the resort operators for the first time that those leases had expired in April 2011.

From then on, the resort says, the companies have demanded they negotiate new leases or be kicked off the leased land, the lawsuit states.

"UPCM and Talisker have threatened to shut down the Resort by denying ... access to and use of its facilities on the leased premises," the lawsuit states. The resort says that unless the defendants are stopped from doing that, it will have no choice but to close.

In a statement regarding the suit, Talisker said Park City Mountain Resort's lease "expired in 2011. Talisker has offered PCMR new lease terms, and the parties have been in discussions regarding such new lease terms, which are subject to an agreement of confidentiality.

"We had hoped to reach terms on the new lease that would be fair to both parties. Unfortunately it appears that PCMR is attempting to use litigation to better its position, and avoid reaching a mutually fair outcome. At no time in these negotiations has Talisker contemplated or threatened to close Park City Mountain. We believed the negotiations were continuing and we are disappointed by PCMR's action today."

In the lawsuit, Park City Mountain Resort is asking for an injunction to prevent the defendants from denying access to the land the resort uses, until the case is resolved.

If the court rules in the alternative, the resort asks for compensatory damages of no less than $7 million and an unspecified amount in punitive damages.

rorellana@sltrib.com