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If You Don’t Want 5 Story Buildings in Bonanza Park You Better Speak Up

This morning Park City City Manager, Diane Foster, was on KPCW and was asked about the Bonanza Park form-based code redevelopment. Ms Foster said that people were concerned that there would be “8 story buildings” accompanying a Bonanza Park redevelopment and they were happy to learn that they would actually be 3 story buildings with the limited potential for 4th and 5th stories if affordable housing was added to the development.

That sounds great. New development will generally be similar in height as today. If buildings get taller, only 75% of the square footage of the bottom floors can be used on the 4th floor and 25% on the 5th floor. In the unlikely event someone wants those extra two stories they will have to build affordable housing. Does that make you feel better? Maybe it shouldn’t.

First, let’s ask why we care about height at all. Most people care about height because it blocks the view of ridge lines, mountain peaks, etc. Others worry that it contributes to too much of an urban feel in our little town. So, imagine a building where there is 5 stories but the top floor has 1/4 of the square footage but runs the width of the building. It still blocks the view and it still looks like it is 5 stories. We always think of the Sears Tower (now Willis Tower) in Chicago. It’s top floors are about 1/16th the square footage of the bottom floors but it’s still 1400 feet tall. Tall is tall, no matter how you slice it.


The second issue is the affordable housing component that may be required to build extra floors. That sounds good. We need to ensure that locals who aren’t millionaires can afford to live here. If that element is lost, it tears at our social fabric. We see why that argument could make sense. However, do you ever wonder why you don’t see a lot of affordable housing in Park City? It’s a little complicated, but let’s start with the way a developer can meet its affordable housing requirements:

  • Construct units on site
  • Build affordable housing somewhere in the city limits
  • Convert current non-affordable units to affordable housing
  • Construct units outside of Park City but within the school district boundary
  • Pay a fee in lieu of developing the units

So, what’s the likelihood of affordable housing ending up within these buildings? Perhaps Park City will specifically write into their code that current affordable housing rules do not apply to these areas and that the affordable housing must be within the base of the building. If not, then don’t count on any affordable housing in this area. The likely outcome, which often happens here, is the fee in lieu option. The developer will choose to pay their $300,000 in affordable housing fees to build that $3 million penthouse without having to sacrifice a thing. They get to use all the square footage at market rates on floors 1-3 plus they get the bonus penthouse(s) or condos on floors 4 and 5.

If you think that you won’t notice the extra height in Bonanza Park. Good luck with that. If you think that the good done outweighs the bad. Well, god bless you.

Right now, the Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” is playing in the background.




Michael Wolfe

Also the city is eliminating the 30 ft set back and open space requirements. This will cause the density of the area to double. Most all the buildings will be 3 story creating a canyon affect. In addition parking requirements are relaxed. The city feels that residents away during the day for work will share parking with retail and business customers. This ludicrous.

Josh Mann


Those are two issues I hadn’t really thought about. I have always imagined this redevelopment with buildings that are similar to today but just taller. However, you are right. If they are basically extended to the street that will feel entirely different. It also points out why some land owners and developers would like this. It provides a substantial increase in SQ FT…which translates to money.

If you are right about that assumption on parking, there is no way the city can depend on that. There will be a variety of different people using those homes/condos: People who work days jobs; people who work night jobs; people who are visiting. Also what if the mix turns out to be mostly restaurant and condo? Then the heavy parking times for both groups will be in the evening.

My last question about parking behind buildings is snow removal. Perhaps they have that figured out and it’s not a big deal but it seems like that would be more complicated.

Steven A Swanson

Letter to Planning Commission, Re: Treasure Hill
Jan. 9, 2018
Dear Chairperson Strachan and Esteemed Commissioners,

On behalf of Thinc, and in the interest of the larger community, I implore the Planning Commission to put in place a reasonable time frame and set of procedural guidelines for the proposed MPD Amendments to the Park City II/ Sweeney Properties Master Plan / Treasure Hill Project.

The negotiating efforts by outside interests both public and private, and the extolled potential benefits with regard to changes to the 30 year-old MPD notwithstanding, the Commission cannot in good faith, abrogate their responsibility to their charge and to the public good in carrying out their duties.

We would be led believe that the process begun decades ago, with its dozen or so iterations, thousands of hours of staff, commission and public’s time & millions of taxpayer dollars invested, would be completely revised as to: use, location, size, scale, zoning and ownership in the short space of six weeks. The public is asked to pay for this privilege, rewarding the original applicant, while silent partners in this development are elevated to Original Applicant status, potentially reaping huge benefits by coat-tailing on the original 1986 MPD. You as a Commission, acted reasonably and responsibly to consider carefully the City Attorney’s proposal & set aside your findings and decision on the CUP and embark on a new set of applications/ hearings, however,

The following points speak to the need to reign in this process:

1. Time – adequate time in schedule for required redesign options, presentations, public hearings & input, neighborhood meetings, planning staff work and commission review, has not been allowed for.

2. Procedure – under the LMC 15-6 (Master Planned Developments – MPD) it clearly states a new (or implied, substantively amended) MPD must follow the required Applications, Submittals, Pre-applications, Work Sessions, Public Meetings, Planning Commission Review, Public Hearings, Staff Reports & Findings, Planning Commission reports, findings and actions.

3. Order – Per LMC 15-6-4G, the Development Agreement must follow after the MPD or amended MPD is approved by the Planning Commission. The scheduled votes by Planning Commission & then City Council for a new Development Agreement are clearly in conflict, since adequate time has not been allotted.

4. Land/ use issues – Proposed re-zoning and changes in the development boundaries require separate application, review, public input, approvals and recordation. It’s not clear that the mix of large single family ski lots plus the boutique hotel are achievable or even desirable in this location from a development basis. Other options must be allowed/ given time to come forward.

5. Public Trust – The Commission, working diligently with Planning staff over two years has established a good base of trust with the public they help represent. A truncated, unclear process undermines that trust. Agendas with no drawings or information in the packet, what is the public supposed to comment on?

I appreciate your time and consideration, and look forward to sharing these thoughts at Wednesday’s meeting.


Steven A. Swanson

Park City UT

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