Why Hollywood Is Flocking to — and Buying Up — Park City
Trousdale-style turnaround potential and accessibility make the 7,300-acre Utah winter wonderland chic for L.A.'s second-home shoppers, including Will and Jada Smith.
Park City just has been minted the U.S.' largest ski resort, the result of the powerful Vail Co.'s decision to combine Park City and the Canyons into a single 7,300-acre winter playground. Other changes include an influx of ski lifts and luxury hotels like the Waldorf Astoria, which boasts the country's only ski-in/ski-out spa. For realtor Alan Long, the upgrades were enough to beckon him out of retirement: "I saw a huge opportunity of what Park City was becoming," says Long, who likens the area's small-town vibe to Malibu and its real estate potential to Trousdale in Beverly Hills. "When the Vail Co. puts almost a quarter-billion dollars into an area, it's just a matter of time before it truly takes off. So I put it all together and decided to start working again," says Long, 60, a former L.A. power broker who founded Beverly Hills-based Dalton, Brown & Long Realtors before selling it to Sotheby's in 2004.
In 2014, he started listing homes in the area and in May founded Park City's Rising Star Realtors. He's now busy building offices on the site of a former mine shaft next to the just-opened Quicksilver gondola, located within striking distance of The Colony (home to people like Will and Jada Smith and a favorite with Justin Bieber, who frequently rents a compound in the gated community), where lots have skyrocketed 40 percent in the last year. The 16,000-square-foot spread frequently rented by Bieber is on the auction block with Concierge Auctions without a reserve (it previously was on the market for $15.9 million). Overall, Park City home prices went up more than 11 percent from 2014 to 2015, according to Zillow; still, they're currently about 20 percent below the average home price in Telluride and less than half the average in Aspen.
"In the '90s I'd sell a house in Trousdale for $2 million, the client would put in $1 million and sell it for $5 million. Now in Trousdale, you buy for $5 million, invest and sell for $25 million," says Long. "That same math is happening here, but the client is different: When homes start trading at that price, you're dealing with billionaires."
Long has forged his own alpine marketing approach: "Rising Star Realtors agents are all expert skiers. We ski the mountains, meet people and tell them about Park City. My agents also spend a lot of time on Main Street during Sundance," he adds. "The next four months bring in the billionaires here, so that's when we really start working the mountains." Long also routinely hosts L.A. colleagues. "I may not know all of the wealthy people in Los Angeles, but I know their real estate brokers," he says. "I bring them here as guests; I fly them in on Friday afternoon, get them fitted for skis, take them on the mountains. We'll go to the St. Regis, the Montage, then I put them back on a plane Saturday."
On one of Long's first "real estate junkets" was Rodeo Realty Fine Estates' Ben Bacal. When Bacal, who has worked with such clients as Megan Ellison, Mark Wahlberg and Ellen DeGeneres, sold a $70 million Trousdale home to Minecraft creator Markus Persson in 2014 (with Rayni and Branden Williams), he attracted the notice of a Park City resident looking to sell. "I had hosted Ben out here, so when the seller called him, I was the obvious referral," says Long, who now shares the $25 million listing — an 8,000-square-foot home — with Bacal. Nearby residents in the golf course community include Brillstein Entertainment's Marc Gurvitz, Deron Williams of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks and musician Skylar Grey.
Even for billionaires, says Long, one of Park City's draws is accessibility. "Unlike some resorts, we have an international airport connected to Park City by an interstate," he says. "When I host realtors here, they're shocked to see how easy it is to get in and out. A lot of my clients may have private jets, but when you want all of your friends and family to join you for the holidays, are they all going to have jets, too? Probably not."
This story first appeared in the Jan. 29 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.