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Deer Valley, Utah: The Next Big Project: Snow Park Village

By Jay Hamburger, Park Record, Park City, UtahMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

May 23, 2009--Harvey LaPointe moved into his condominium on the 500 block of Deer Valley Drive in 1993, toward the beginning of Park City's boom years of the decade.

Sitting between Old Town and Snow Park, the place is situated well, giving him easy access to the Snow Park area of Deer Valley Resort, with its vast parking lots, and the shopping, dining and entertainment options of Main Street.

Someday, though, the parking lots outside of Snow Park Lodge, just down the street from where LaPointe and scores of other Park City people live, will likely be developed with real estate. Deer Valley Resort holds long-standing rights to build on the Snow Park lots as part of the overall approval of the resort years ago.

"Frankly, when I moved here I had

no clue what could take place on Deer Valley's parking lots," LaPointe says, describing that he has since become aware of the development prospects of Snow Park parking lots through media coverage.

Many people who live along Deer Valley Drive likely are unaware of the development rights Deer Valley holds, as LaPointe was when he bought his place. The corridor between the Old Town roundabout and Snow Park has grown substantially over the years, and neighborhoods have been built off the main road that will be affected by development at Snow Park as well.

It is a situation that is similar to what is unfolding across Park City with the Sweeney family's Treasure development proposal close to Old Town. City Hall officials in the 1980s granted

an overall approval for Treasure and several smaller nearby projects. The Sweeneys are now seeking an approval for Treasure, which would be built on the slopes of Park City Mountain Resort. Treasure is the most significant portion of the earlier approval.

The Sweeneys are facing opposition from neighbors and from people who live elsewhere who are displeased with the Treasure plans. Critics from streets like Lowell Avenue and Empire Avenue say Treasure, as it was approved in the 1980s, no longer fits in the neighborhood. They are especially worried about the traffic Treasure is expected to attract.

Many of the critics arrived well after Park City officials granted Treasure's overall approval, and some were unaware when they moved in of the development rights the Sweeneys held.

At Deer Valley, the resort's forefathers in the late 1970s secured the overall development plans for much of what is now built at the resort. Under that approval, Deer Valley is allowed to develop the Snow Park parking lots, one of the last major development parcels inside Park City.

According to Bob Wells, the vice president at Deer Valley and the official who leads the resort's development efforts, city leaders at the time allowed approximately 420,000 square feet of residential development on the parking-lot site. The number of units has not been determined, however, and that figure will depend on the square footage of the individual places. Wells says Deer Valley is allowed to build another approximately 22,000 square feet of commercial space under the earlier approval.

Deer Valley would build a huge parking garage, partly underground, to replace the Snow Park spots that are lost as the land is developed. He says the garage would contain approximately 2,100 spaces, significantly more than the 1,200 to 1,250 cars that the Snow Park lots now hold.

Deer Valley refers to the project as Snow Park Village. There has been occasional chatter over the years that Deer Valley is preparing its submittals, but they have never materialized.

Wells, though, says Deer Valley is "consistently working on planning." At the earliest, he says, Deer Valley would file paperwork with City Hall in early 2010. Once that occurs, the resort would discuss the project with City Hall planners and then the Planning Commission. The Park City Council sometimes is involved with larger developments like Snow Park Village.

City officials will be deciding whether Deer Valley's blueprints are acceptable, not whether there should be development outside Snow Park Lodge. The decision to allow development at the site was made during the earlier era.

Wells says Deer Valley Drive, the road primarily used to drive to Snow Park, could handle the additional traffic Snow Park Village would bring. He says a study of traffic patterns, though, will be done. Wells expects that Snow Park Village would cut the outbound afternoon traffic, when Deer Valley Drive is frequently clogged with skiers leaving the resort, by keeping some of the skiers at Deer Valley later with after-ski draws like restaurants and, possibly, an ice rink.

There is likely to be opposition, though, particularly from people who live along the Deer Valley Drive corridor and those who live or have properties close to the parking lots. Traffic will probably be of great concern to the Deer Valley Drive residents. The proposed height of buildings at Snow Park Village will likely be closely scrutinized by the people closest to the site.

Still, Wells says Snow Park Village will have supporters as well. He says many people with places close to Snow Park will benefit from what will be built there. He says Deer Valley officials have kept them apprised of the plans.

"Adjoining developments, property owners, look at the ultimate completion of the village there as an asset," he says.

Official: project not well known

Charlie Winzter, a member of the Park City Planning Commission who lives on a street off Deer Valley Drive, says he is unsure if many people who live close by are aware Deer Valley Resort holds long-standing rights to develop real estate on the parking lots outside of Snow Park Lodge.

Wintzer, a longtime Park City resident who is in the construction business, says he understands Deer Valley will one day develop the parking lots, but others who live on or near Deer Valley Drive do not.

"I know that because I've been paying attention to development," he says. "I don't know if the other people do."

A Deer Valley official says the resort could file submittals for what is known as Snow Park Village in early 2010, at the earliest. The project would have residential and commercial space, and a huge parking garage.

Wintzer's current term on the Planning Commission expires in July. He has submitted an application for another term.

Wintzer, who lives on McHenry Avenue, says the Planning Commission would look closely at the amount of traffic driving to and from Snow Park Village and the designs of the buildings. Perhaps, he says, city officials could discourage people from driving to the development.

"At five o'clock at night, it's crowded now," he says about traffic on Deer Valley Drive, adding, "It's not just Deer Valley Drive, it's the whole corridor."

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To see more of the Park Record, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.parkrecord.com.

Copyright (c) 2009, Park Record, Park City, Utah

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