Mayflower Operating Agreement Still Under Negotiation
The Extell Development Company - the developer of the Mayflower Mountain Resort in Wasatch County - still hasn’t finalized an operating agreement with Deer Valley Resort. What was thought by many that Mayflower would become the eastern portal to Deer Valley - opening up a 1,000 new acres of ski terrain - now seems to be questionable whether that’s still the plan.
When Extell Development Company purchased the 2,300 acres of the Mayflower property, which is west of U.S. 40, abutting the southeast boundary of Deer Valley Resort, it was planned that this development, with three hotels, 250,000 square feet of commercial and a 60,000 square foot conference center, would be part of the Deer Valley experience.
The former COO of Deer Valley, Bob Wheaton, had met with the Mayflower planners for years before the resort was sold to Alterra Mountain Company in 2017. His retirement came 18 months later. Wheaton was excited about the possibilities, though he had expressed concerns that some of the plans didn’t meet Deer Valley’s expectations for resort development.
Gary Barnett, the founder and chairman of Extell, told KPCW they continue to have ongoing discussions with Deer Valley, but there’s no operating agreement. When asked if it’s still the plan to partner with Deer Valley, he said, “It's very possible. We’re in ongoing discussions but we've been talking to them for several years, actually almost since we bought our land. And then of course, they, the owners of Deer Valley, sold it to a new group. So, it's possible, but there's nothing conclusive at this point.”
Barnett was noncommittal when asked if Mayflower had what it took to be a viable resort given the lower elevation and the amount of snowmaking that would be required if it wasn’t part of Deer Valley.
“Again, this is all stuff that's a little bit early for us to discuss," said Barnett. "We were doing work on several different possibilities and so we just not ready to say what the future is going to be there.”
But that would come as a surprise to Wasatch County officials if Mayflower isn’t part of Deer Valley Resort. Wasatch County Manager Mike Davis said the county was banking on the ties with Deer Valley for their support of the Mayflower Mountain development.
“You know, I have not heard a word on that, and we certainly have a concern,” said Davis. "A lot of what we had planned for the last ten years up in that area is very tied to the Deer Valley Resort itself and the operating parameters that Deer Valley has instilled in the area. We kind of hitched our horse to that post because we felt that Deer Valley represented a world class venue for skiing and other outdoor opportunity and so we are very interested to make sure that those agreements are facilitated quickly, and basically comply with what's been happening in the past. There has been some leadership change in Deer Valley so we don't have quite as much interaction with them but we still work with Steve Issowits closely and he is on our planning board for the Jordanelle specially planned area so we are trying to keep close to that, but I've not heard that that agreement is done at this point.”
When asked if the county would have handled this development differently if they knew that Mayflower wasn’t going to be a part of Deer Valley, Davis said he didn’t know, but that that would certainly be concerning to the county.
“That's a good question and I'm not sure how to answer that,” said Davis. "I guess that is a possibility and that would be a concern to us. We really do want Deer Valley involved in this. They know how to run a ski resort and do it good job with it. And we've kind of counted on that for the development of that area. It’s the destination. So, if it doesn't happen that would be something we have to look at."
Now that all land use authority lies with the Military Installation Development Authority, or MIDA, which is a state political subdivision run by an appointed board and not Wasatch County officials, Barnett isn’t too concerned that the original approvals were based on ties to Deer Valley.
“I think everybody's so far happy with what we're envisioning up and down the line,” said Barnett. "It’s a respectful plan that doesn't put tremendous density on the property. As to the skiing possibilities, we definitely have the right to connect to Deer Valley. Whether that gets more extended and more extensive, we're not sure yet - so I mean our plans will get firmed up in the next few months and then we'll have a better idea then and who knows maybe you will give me another interview.”
Gary Barnett is the founder and chairman of Extell Development Company, based in New York. You can hear the entire interview that discusses Barnett’s relationship with his friend Jack Bistricer as well as the sealed lawsuit with a former employee online at www.kpcw.org.