First Look: Sundance's New "Resort Mecca" to Feature Luxury Homes, 5 New Ski Lifts

Sundance's New Resort Mecca-Publicity-H 2019
Courtesy of Extell Development Company

Massive villages are planned for Park City and the surrounding area to appeal to the film festival crowd that "probably would never have come to Utah."

Sundance isn't the only attraction that lures Hollywood to the slopes of Park City. Justin Bieber, Katherine Heigl and Will Smith all own homes in the area (Jeffrey Katzenberg recently sold one) prized for its great skiing and easy access from L.A. (less than two hours' flight to nearby Salt Lake City).

Now entertainment industry second-home hunters can look forward to a massive development project underway just a few miles southeast of Park City's main drag. Envisioned as an eastern portal of the Deer Valley Resort, this new ski village almost certainly will extend the footprint of the Sundance Film Festival.

In September, officials from Wasatch County approved a plan — the largest project in county history — hatched by New York-based Extell Development Co. to build a high-end destination resort, Mayflower Mountain, at the Mayflower exit off U.S. Route 40. "We're talking about 3.2 million square feet of development, so this is bigger than any concentrated area of Deer Valley," says Engel & Volkers broker Mark Sletten, who's based in Park City.

Headed up by Gary Barnett, Extell is one of the most prolific residential developers in New York City. In 2017, Extell purchased 2,300 acres of land west of the Jordanelle Reservoir (see map); the Mayflower Mountain Resort will stretch across 940 acres of that land.

The plan, rolling out in phases over the next two decades, will result in 1,500 residential units — a mixture of homes, hotel rooms and condominiums, most will be in the luxury price range (around $1,500 per square foot). Among the several planned hotels, at least one will be five-star, with another dedicated to members of the military. More than 250,000 square feet of commercial and retail space are planned, along with a 68,000-square-foot recreation center and 95,000 square feet of housing set aside for the future Mayflower workforce. Five new Deer Valley ski lifts will be added, as will extensive skiable terrain.

The greenlighting of the Mayflower caps a five-year boom in local real estate. The median 2018 sale price of a Park City home was $585,000, up 8 percent from 2017, with total market volume up 3 percent, according to figures provided by The Agency — the Beverly Hills real estate powerhouse that opened its first Park City office in July.

Two of the area's luxury resorts — Montage and Stein Eriksen — also are expanding and upgrading. And a new Pendry resort is under construction in Park City, set to open in the winter of 2021 (Pendry is a subsidiary of Montage) with 150 rooms and suites, along with luxury residences ranging from studios to four-bedroom homes. The Stein Eriksen Lodge just finished a $14 million renovation that includes a new restaurant, an entertainment space, a theater, cafe and apres-ski outdoor heated plaza.

Paul Benson, also of Engel & Volkers, credits two factors for Park City's allure: While the 2002 Winter Olympics helped get the ball rolling, he says, the film festival and its own continued growth (nearly 125,000 people attended in 2018 with, by one estimate, $191.2 million in economic impact) has arguably moved the needle much further. "Sundance put us on the map," Benson says. "The film festival exposed this town to people who probably would never have come to Utah, and it has helped create a resort real estate mecca."

This story first appeared in the Jan. 24 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.