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Park City rejects Ontario Mine Bench housing proposal in open space area

The consultant's rendering showed how the units would be divided into 10 buildings, built into the hill behind the existing Ontario mine buildings (left).
The consultant's rendering showed how the units would be divided into 10 buildings, built into the hill behind the existing Ontario mine buildings (left).

Nearby hoteliers spoke in favor of the 300-unit, 660-bed affordable project, but some residents disagreed.

The city-owned Mine Bench property sits near the Ontario Mine Trailhead by Marsac Avenue and Wheaton Way.

Park City officials had considered using the 29-acre swath of land for affordable housing since early 2021. A consultant presented a potential site plan to the Park City Council Thursday, leaving members conflicted.

“This is one of those decisions that sort of feels like do you like your mom, or do you like your dad better?” Councilmember Tana Toly said. “Everyone knows my family has been here since the 1800s; history is extremely important to me. I'm the open space liaison, I'm the trails liaison, and I'm also a huge advocate of our workforce.”

The consultant was proposing a 300-unit housing project, with 660 beds spread across 10 buildings. With a mix of studios and four-bedroom apartments, the majority would have been listed at affordable rates. The plan also included 220 parking spaces.

Many businesses said it would reduce workers' commutes. Proponents included representatives of the St. Regis, Montage, Stein Eriksen Lodge, Goldener Hirsch, Talisker Club and the Park City Chamber of Commerce.

But residents pointed out the development was proposed on land designated “undeveloped recreational open space” by the 2007 Flagstaff and Empire Pass development agreements.

Old Town resident of 43 years Peter Marth angrily addressed the hotels, some which exist because of those development agreements.

“You, sir, are allowed to operate because that was saved, and now you are a proponent of destroying it,” he said to one hotel representative. “The ‘dark forces’ have revealed themselves as behind this.”

Another sticking point was the developer, Sevitas, asked Park City to contribute $3.4 million to the project.

The developer would cede ownership of the development to the city after 20 years. Additionally, the city would collect rent in year No. 1.

“The city is going to see a return on this, and I think that's the big difference in this proposal versus other proposals,” Park City Housing Manager Jason Glidden said.

But the council wasn’t convinced it was worth the risk or that Mine Bench was the right spot for workforce housing. Councilmembers couldn’t reconcile workers living closer to their jobs but farther from essential services.

The city owns other properties along state Route 248 and out near Quinn’s Junction. It recently broke ground on the Studio Crossing mixed-use neighborhood and EngineHouse affordable housing development, both public-private partnerships.

Corrected: March 19, 2024 at 10:44 AM MDT
This article was revised to correct the amount of money Park City was asked to contribute, as well as when it would begin collecting rent on the project.
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