At the end of the day, non-binding deposits had been taken on what could translate to more than $50 million worth of slope side real estate. Because the project is still in the permitting and development process, no actual sales are expected for at least six weeks. But the launch party -- intended merely to measure the market strength of the project -- caught local realtors by surprise.
"I got a call Wednesday evening from a client who wanted to be first in line," said Barry Van of Prudential Coleman Real Estate in Park City, who has sold real estate in the area for nine winters. "I took my sleeping bag and got there about midnight. Good thing I did -- ten minutes later, more people arrived."
Van said that before the office opened he was offered $1000 in cash for his #1 position. He declined. "People were shocked that it happened so quickly," said realtor Ann MacQuoid, who works with Lewis, Wolcott and Dornbush -- an affiliate of Sotheby's. MacQuoid, who has lived in Park City for 17 years, arrived at 5:45 am and was surprised to find many waiting ahead of her. "The excitement at the offering was unprecedented," she said.
By 8:00 am, so many people were waiting that the office set up an open charge account at a nearby delicatessen to provide breakfast for waiting buyers. At noon, more than 100 pizzas were delivered to feed those waiting. "It was like a street festival," said Van. "People were having a great time ... their kids were hanging out playing Hacky-Sack and riding skateboards." As the day progressed, American Skiing Company Chairman and CEO, Leslie B. Otten worked the crowd, passing out chocolate-covered strawberries from a silver tray.
"I started getting calls from people all over the country," said MacQuoid. "The company has excellent credibility, and they worked closely with realtors to gain our confidence." "We've believed all along that The Canyons will become one of America's premier ski resorts," said Scott Oldakowski, Senior Vice President of Real Estate Marketing and Sales for American Skiing Company. "Looks like a lot of people are starting to agree."
In all, more than 210 reservations were taken for what was originally intended to be a 75 condominium units. As a result, The Canyons is hoping to accelerate the schedule of the project. The potential $50 million sale is believed by American Skiing Company officials to be the biggest single-day, one-resort real estate success story ever in North American skiing.
The project must still receive approval from Summit County. According to The Canyons' Vice President for Development, Randy Cassidy, the process is moving ahead smoothly -- and assuming it continues to do so, construction will begin this summer. "I'm known as one of the most conservative guys in the company, and all I can say is 'Wow'," said Cassidy. "We've still got a lot to do, and we're working very closely with the local community and area planning officials to ensure that the project fits in with local development protocols. So far, we've received very positive feedback, and we look forward to moving ahead."
The Canyons, formerly known as Wolf Mountain and Park West, is located near the town of Park City, approximately one-half hour from Salt Lake City International Airport in Utah. It was acquired by the American Skiing Company in July, 1997. Other American Skiing Company resorts include Steamboat, Colorado; Killington, Mount Snow and Sugarbush, Vermont; Heavenly, California; Sunday River and Sugarloaf/USA Maine; and Attitash Bear Peak New Hampshire. The American Skiing Company is a publicly traded company (NYSE: SKI).