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The Sweeney family's asking price for a buyout of their Treasure Hill land abutting Park City's historic district may be too high even for a community that has spent tens of millions of dollars to preserve open space.
After a closed meeting Wednesday between Park City officials and the Sweeneys, City Councilwoman Liza Simpson said the Treasure Hill acreage could be purchased for $92,925,000. Simpson said that means a deal isn't likely.
The Sweeneys and their partners, a limited liability corporation called Park City II, have proposed building a 1 million-square-foot project near the Creole ski run and Lowell Avenue that would include a hotel, conference center, restaurant and retail space.
But many Park City residents have criticized the plan as too big. The city had considered purchasing the land as open space.
"I think it is beyond our community's ability and willingness to bond for the land at that price," Simpson said. She doubts the council would put a bond that large on the ballot.
Salt Lake City-based attorney Craig Call, who represents the Park City II partnership that owns a 50 percent interest in the land, said he was not surprised the price tag was out of reach for the municipality.
"I believe it is more than the city is willing to pay," he said. But "it is based on what we think the property is worth."
In 1986, the Sweeneys gained approval for a 412,000-square-foot residential and commercial development on 120 acres just northwest of Park City's historic district. Several years ago, they submitted a plan for a 1 million-square-foot development on the same property. That plan included 112 acres of open space.
Last year, the amended proposal appeared headed for a negative recommendation from the Park City Planning Commission. Fearing a lawsuit that could yield a court-ordered development agreement, the City Council amended its land management code to allow council members to negotiate with developers.
A group opposed to the development, called Treasure Hill Impact Coalition (THINC), voiced concern about the negotiations. One of its organizers, Brian Van Hecke, said Wednesday that it appeared the negotiations have not been fruitful.
"It's pretty outrageous. It's hard to fathom," Van Hecke said of the Sweeneys' asking price. "It doesn't seem to be based on any market valuations."
Park City will continue to negotiate with the Sweeneys, as outlined in a letter of intent aimed at reducing the project's density. It's possible that 50 percent of the project could be transferred to another site, Simpson said.
No further negotiations have been scheduled. The Park City Council most likely will discuss the Sweeneys' buyout offer at its Jan. 5 meeting.