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PCMR developer says under-building base area would be a ‘disservice’ to resort

PEG PCMR street rendering
PEG Companies
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The plans to develop the PCMR base area could be voted on in the coming months.

The proposal to develop the base area of Park City Mountain Resort is expected to get a public hearing with the Park City Planning Commission in late March. Despite continued concerns from the public, the developer still wants to move forward.

It’s been almost two years since the Park City Planning Commission first discussed the proposal to turn the Park City Mountain Resort parking lots into hotels, condos, and retail space.

Park City first granted approvals to develop the parking lots in 1998, now Provo-based developer PEG Companies, along with PCMR owner Vail Resorts, is mounting a serious push to complete the project in the coming years.

The ambitious project includes roughly 800,000 square feet of new density. PEG and Vail also propose moving the surface parking underground, and add new off-site parking, transit, and traffic circulation plans for the base area.

With crowds and traffic in Park City growing each year, PEG VP of Development Robert Schmidt told KPCW he thinks the worst option is to do nothing.

“What I don’t think we should do is wait for a few years to figure this out," Schmidt said. "We’ve seen the positive effects at other resorts, we can take cues from those locations, and we can anticipate what’s going to happen here. Moving forward is how we affect change.” 

The project has strong opposition from many members of the public, led by the community group RRAD, or the Responsible Resort Area Development Coalition. RRAD co-founder Deb Rentfrow told KPCW in January she thinks this winter’s on-mountain crowds and traffic show PEG’s plans to reduce the stress are insufficient.

PEG wants an exception to the required number of parking spots at the base area for a project of this size. Current code requires 2,800 parking spaces to be at the base area, but PEG is only proposing to build 1,700.

The proposal includes several satellite parking lots in Park City, Canyons Village, Kimball Junction, and Jeremy Ranch. People would use public transit to get to the resort. Planning commissioners called the off-site parking plan “insufficient” at a meeting last week, but city staff indicated a willingness to consider the exception in the past because of city goals to get cars off the road and people on the bus.

Schmidt says PEG’s plans to reduce traffic and parking rely heavily on a behavior shift in the resort’s customers. He says PEG and Vail both realize that change is hard, but also believe it is necessary to solve the problem.

“You have to recognize that if you’re not in your parking spot by 9:00, you’re probably not gonna get a spot at the base, you need to plan on parking at a remote location and riding the bus," said Schmidt. "We need to improve that bus service so that that’s a reasonable ask so that people can expect to get on the bus and arrive at the resort in 10 minutes or so and make it just as easy and convenient as if you were parking at the base.”

Another concern from the public is the height of the project’s buildings. Structures at the base would top the 100-foot mark in some places, but city code for that part of town only allows a maximum of 35 feet. Many members of the public say the buildings will destroy mountain views and forever change the resort’s first impression to guests.

The catch is, the 1998 city-approved site plan for the land also included buildings nearly 100 feet high. Although PEG has to apply for those exceptions again, all of the density with the ‘98 plans is guaranteed.

Schmidt says a resort as well known as PCMR deserves a base area that delivers the right amount of resources to its guests.

“It would be a disservice if we under-built and didn’t provide the services and amenities at the base of this resort," he said. "I believe that the city anticipated that they would grant a higher height at the base location when they granted the site plan in 1998 – they granted the height then. It would be a shame if we just built a bunch of 35-foot condos at this location. It would be a disservice to the mountain.” 

A public hearing on the project is scheduled for March 23rd. Schmidt says a vote on the project could come in April.