Utah’s newest ski resort is in Morgan County. It has received its final approvals, and developers plan to have some of the chairlifts turning in just a couple of years. But because it’s all private, it’s a resort most Utahns will never get to visit.
Wasatch Peaks Ranch has tapped the man who knows a lot of developing a world class ski resort. Bob Wheaton led the Deer Valley team for the last few decades when the resort earned national accolades as best ski resort in North America six years in a row. He is now the president and CEO of Utah’s newest ski, snowboard and golf resort.
Ed Shultz is Managing Director of Wasatch Peaks Ranch. He was hired to negotiate the purchase contract and led the entitlement process. There are 10 owners of the property, from around the world – one of them is Park City resident and former owner of Deer Valley resort, Lessing Stern.
Only 750 units are planned for the ski and golf resort that is located off Interstate 84 - about 10 miles from Snowbasin Resort. According to Wheaton it’s about a 15 minute drive from the Ogden airport – about 30 minutes form the Salt Lake International airport.
With a resort that will be larger than Deer Valley and will have only half the number of members who are part of the exclusive Yellowstone Club, this is a resort, they say that is being built for the 1% of the richest 1%.
Wheaton, who knows what it costs to run a ski resort says the numbers work.
“To say there were a few details to attend to would be an understatement,” Wheaton said. “Everything from water to entitlements to access to you name it, and Ed did a yeoman’s job putting all that together. And part of that was a financial proforma on how this could work . Because as you know it’s private endeavor, some might call it a private club that has some outstanding skiing. 3,000-plus acres of lift served skiing and over 3,000 vertical feet,18 hole championship golf course, 9 hole practice course. A lot of activities. And the proforma does work. As we’ve all looked at it, it’s like you know, this makes sense. As I said, it’s an amazing opportunity.”
The plans call for a mix of single family homes, cabins and some attached units. With a 10 to 15 year build out, they say they’ll watch the market to see what people want. There will be a central village and the units will be built along the amenities an owner is looking for – on the ski hill or around the golf course.
Schultz says the Morgan County Council voted 6 to 1 in favor of the project, noting it brings an economic benefit to both the county and community.
“All of our infrastructure - all of those components are our responsibility,” Shultz said. “We are asking for no dollars, no future liabilities – roads are typically developed and then transferred over to the community in a year. These are private roads meaning our responsibility for maintenance and snow removal. All the way through to our water system, our sewer systems - all of these are c components that we’re shouldering and really, the net benefit to the community is from a tax standpoint. There’s not a big economic base in Morgan county and this will be a majority we foresee 90% of the homeowners will be 2nd homes so with the homestead tax exemption that you guys have here in Utah, again, furthering the benefit to the community without shouldering the costs and also not bringing in 5,000 homes that would be required to support a public resort.”
Morgan County has seen other development proposals come through. Schultz thinks they offered more than others…
“Traditional residential single family home development, those don’t really carry the cost associated with that kind of development,” Shultz said. So, there was a big economic driver they really understood there as well as the benefits of growth without the costs of growth. 60% of the property will remain as private open space and we’ve exceeded that by another 10 to 15% which is another 1,000 to 1500 acres and I think that really carried a lot of weight as well that the development wasn’t going to sprawl in the future across other parts of this land.”
So, just how much will it cost? Well – it’s not for everyone. Wheaton says they’re still defining the numbers for the lot prices and annual property association dues, but he says the costs will be on par with other private clubs that offer similar amenities and exclusivity.
This summer, they’ll begin cutting roads and laying utilities. The summer of 2021, they will put in snowmaking and the first phase of chairlifts. They expect to have a few lifts turning by the winter of 2021-22.