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PCMR and Vail maneuver as ski season hangs in the balance

Published August 19, 2014 10:50 am

Bond • Aug. 27 hearing could give insights into potential agreement between resort.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Third District Judge Ryan Harris will soon have to answer this question: What's the fair market rental value for 2,852 acres of ski terrain at Park City Mountain Resort?

Monday, PCMR and Talisker/Vail looked to be worlds apart in negotiating a non-refundable bond that would allow PCMR to operate the ski resort until litigation is exhausted.

According to court filings filed Friday by PCMR, fair market lease rate is somewhere between $226,650 and $1 million per year.

With rent and attorney fees and other costs, PCMR suggests that for the period from May 1, 2011, to Jan. 31, 2015, the court should set the bond between $1,021,308 and $6,559,616.

Talisker/Vail are seeking more than $6.6 million, but because it wants the lease rate based on PCMR's earnings, the value of the proprietary information has been redacted from its filing.

John Lund, an attorney for Talisker/Vail, said even PCMR's highest bond recommendation falls woefully short of present-day lease values for the ski terrain in question.

"We take the position that what they should pay is based on what they are making," he said. "A significant amount of that revenue is associated with our land."

If a bond amount could be agreed upon, it also would provide peace of mind to Park City businesses and employees who fear a continued deadlock would harm the economy if PCMR were to be evicted and the resort shuttered for the season.

For decades, Talisker Land Holdings and its predecessor, United Park City Mines, leased ski terrain to PCMR for $155,000 annually. But after PCMR missed a April 30, 2011, lease-renewal deadline the entities landed in court.

Talisker/Vail prevailed and Harris was ready to consider an eviction notice.

But PCMR owns and operates the base facilities that are key to operating the storied ski resort. It has said it will appeal Harris' ruling to the Utah Supreme Court.

Talisker/Vail offered the bond arrangement, it said, in an effort to keep the resort operating and relieving the anxieties of the Park City business community.

Talisker also leases land at nearby Canyons Restort to Vail. Vail's annual $25 million lease rate comes with the option to operate PCMR were Talisker/Vail to prevail in court.

Harris will consider the matter Aug. 27 in Park City's 3rd District Court.

csmart@sltrib.com