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Highway 224 Interrupted

As I drive up 224 toward town, just past Park City Nursery, I pass a plot of land with two old trees guarding a large piece of open space. I begin thinking about the drive. Sure, Kimball Junction is a mess, but once I get past that I feel like I’m in mountain town. There are big swaths of open space. There’s an old barn. There are condos that look like they should be in the mountains. There are homes tucked away. And there are businesses that like Trout Bum that both belong in a mountain town and look like they belong in a mountain town.

Then I think of the two old trees, what’s coming, and realize that *this* drive is going to be changed forever. In the near future, that piece of open space is going to become a Hyatt Place hotel. Gone will be that little bit of open space and those old trees. How exactly did this happen?

The owner of the land had originally been granted the rights to build a restaurant, retail shops, and offices on the property. The owner approached Summit County and asked for them to change their agreement to allow a hotel. The County Council initially appeared skeptical of the idea. They asked the owner to work with the Planning staff to discuss it further. This led to a neighborhood meeting with residents of Sunpeak which backs up to the parcel. From accounts of the meeting, many residents came to the meeting opposing the idea. Yet when they left, at least some were now in favor of it. People tell me that many residents changed their minds because they were worried about an Applebee’s or Buffalo Wild Wings in the area.

The County Council then held a meeting where they were told that residents now approved of the Hyatt Hotel. They discussed the matter, and with only Roger Armstrong dissenting due to concerns over whether this was really better for the community, ultimately approved the hotel because:

  • Residents now were in favor of it.
  • Traffic may be less with a hotel.
  • It is close to Canyons, and therefore close to a resort district, where hotels should be.
  • It will likely bring more revenues to the County.

The opposing view was:

  • If the owner really thought a restaurant, office space, and retail shops would work, they would have already built it. Sunpeak residents probably weren’t really choosing.
  • Traffic may be less with a hotel than a restaurant but traffic wouldn’t be less with a hotel than an empty lot.
  • If we allow hotels to be built because they are close to Canyons, Old Ranch Rd is even closer to Canyons.
  • Occupancy rates are low around Park City. Some would say there is even a glut of hotels. That being said, tax revenues will likely be higher than if it was an empty lot.

But the arguments don’t really matter now because it has been decided.

So, within the next year it is likely stucco will rise from the ground, concrete will replace grass, and the trees will fall. The leisurely drive into Park City will be interrupted by something straight out of Draper. Perhaps more importantly, and unfortunately, those people who live in Willow Creek, drop their kids off at Soaring Wings, or visit one of the two parks in the area are going to have their impressions changed. No longer do they live in a mountain residential area with just a few small shops, school and parks. Every time they drive by this property they are going to **know** they live in the suburbs. And you know what suburbs need… more drug stores, more fast food, and more gas stations.

Welcome to the continuation of Sandy in the Mountains. At least you can tell your kids you were there when it all began.

Note: This article originally appeared on the previous version of the Park Rag


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