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September 08, 2006

Brian Head Interconnect Improvements--Whose Job is it to Pay

Got an e-mail from another local and friend of mine answering some of my questions about the new interconnect. First, let's have a little reality check--the real estate market at Brian Head is dictated by the market in Las Vegas and to a lessor extent, LA and Phoenix. And right now, all three have slowed considerably. It remains to be seen whether any new construction has sufficient buyers. Most of the speculators are gone. So the new Summit project sounds good, but it actually getting built is yet to be seen. If there are not a bunch of new condos, will the resort need/want to invest in the new lifts?

So that leaves us with the question of what does the town get in return for building a bridge for the ski resort. I assume that if it meant additional building of new condos, additional tax revenue, additional growth, etc., perhaps this would be a justifiable investment of public funds. I just don't see that. I don't see how making more condos slopeside, especially if they never get built or never get sold due to the RE market, makes the project worthwhile. Nor do I see that "new hiking trails" across the road make it a good project either. I can hike across the road, thank you very much.

This is a gift to the resort and a gift to developers building across the road. And unless the resort is obligated to complete the lift improvements and somehow this is going to result in a return of revenues to the town, I cannot see that it makes sense for the town to make this kind of investment. The new condo projects should pay for the improvement through impact fees. Or they should build the improvements as part of their zoning requirements. If the recovery of the investment were clear, I would be in 100% support.

I want new lifts and the Navajo interconnect as bad as anyone, but it is not the town's job to pay for resort improvements. The resort owns huge chunks of land that increase in value if the improvements are completed and I can guarantee you that lift ticket prices are going to increase if the resort puts in more runs and better lifts. This gift from the town would allow the resort to invest less money in improvements that are going to allow them to either attract more skiers and/or charge more money. That just does not make sense to me as a taxpayer.

Posted by Justin at September 8, 2006 06:09 AM

Comments

Hear Hear! If there were a quid pro quo (lawyerese for If I scratch your back, you are legally required to scratch mine) obligating the resort to complete lift improvements if the bridge is built, I might feel more comfortable about the tax increase and gift of the bridge. At least I'd know we are getting something back.

However, the location of the project seems to indicate that may be as much about increasing the viability of the Summit project and the value of the resort land surrounding it as it is about making the skiing experience better overall. If the Summit developer and the resort are going to be the prime beneficiaries, they're who ought to pay for it. While there's a good chance the project will help my property values increase, there's also a good chance that the market will be flooded with unsaleable brand new housing that will cause the value of my properties to tank.

Posted by: Dan Curriden at September 8, 2006 09:47 AM

I am deeply concerned with exactly that--the market getting flooded by new condos and developers cutting prices to move properties. Further, if a condo complex tanks at Brian Head, folks that are potential buyers will stay away from the resort and it tags the entire area as undesirable. That just makes the problem worse. People will only buy condos if they can reasonably expect the value to increase over time and to be able to resell them in the future.

The resort needs some serious improvements, but has an exceptional location, great snow, and is driving distance from three major metropolitan areas. What it lacks currently could all be fixed if the resort were interested in investing in expansion and improvements. But sadly, they are not. So why should the town invest when the resort has not. If the resort was investing in Pioneer Cabins and upgrading the lifts and facilities, then there would be a long term strategic vision and the possibility of continued appreciation of our property and an influx of new buyers. But as long as the resort continues to plod along and not make improvements, the town has no reason to invest in infrastructure and waste our tax dollars.

Posted by: Justin B at September 8, 2006 10:02 AM

The town wouldn't be doing it if it wasn't in the town's best interest. Do you have any idea how much the town will benefit financially from the taxes on the new expensive projects and increased revenue at the resort and other local businesses?
Just the Brian Head Lofts will bring in an estimated $300,000 per year in property taxes alone...and that's only 72 units.

My biggest concern:
It might not happen for another 5,10 even 15 years, but eventually taxes will, like in other booming resort towns, go through the roof. I expect taxes will be higher than most peoples mortgage payments. You thought you'd have that mortgage paid off in 15 years...it won't even matter when your taxes are double your mortgage payment.

Posted by: David at November 15, 2006 02:04 PM