The first day of spring has come and gone, yet about the only activity to be found atop Traverse Ridge at Point of the Mountain is the occasional hop of a lonesome rabbit.
A mere three months ago, plans were for the mountaintop to be buzzing with activity about this time as the Arizona-based Estes Co. talked about a spring groundbreaking for its multimillion-dollar resort development.Estes was pushing hard for Draper City officials to annex 4,700 acres of unincorporated Utah County land increasing the size of the city overnight by more than 50 percent to facilitate the project.
So far, however, it's been a classic case of hurry up and wait. Although Draper wasted little time approving the annexation, the project has remained snarled in red tape at Estes corporate offices.
"We're still working on the financing package," said Estes spokesman Dennis Wall in a telephone interview from Arizona. He said the company hasn't changed its attitude about the Salt Lake area. "We're still positive and enthusiastic about the project."
Wall blames difficulties inside the company for slowing the project's progress. He said Traverse Ridge is only one of several large-scale developments the company is working on simultaneously, and it must wait its turn in line.
Part of the problem is that Estes is still looking for a partner to spread out the risk. Until that's accomplished, the project will pretty much be at a standstill. None of the three national hotel chains negotiating with Estes to be the tenant for the project's first phase 400-room hotel want to commit themselves until the financing is firmed up, he said.
Because of delays, Wall doesn't expect groundbreaking will be until next spring. "I wish we could have gotten started, but we can't. We'll have to wait in place until next spring, unless everything suddenly falls into place."
Despite the lack of activity, Draper City officials are still expressing confidence in the development and Traverse Ridge.
"We're definitely comfortable with it," City Administrator Andy Hatton-Ward said. "I'd be lying if I told you we weren't disappointed that work hasn't started already, but we're still convinced it'll be an outstanding project once things get rolling."
Hatton-Ward said if construction doesn't start until late summer or fall or even if it's put off until next spring it doesn't make a lot of difference. Nothing has been done to hurt the city even if the resort community is never built. Although the city is now responsible for servicing 4,000 acres of Utah County land, officials knew they were taking that risk when they approved the annexation.
Hatton-Ward said he's told Estes that Draper will provide the best level of fire protection possible with the city's fire trucks. But in the event of a sizable grass fire, he doubts planes and helicopters would be called out because of the prohibitive costs involved.
"We'll let a fire burn itself out. We won't call in the bombers and have the city pay to protect Estes' shrubbery. We've told them if they want a higher level of fire protection, they'll have to contract for it.
Hatton-Ward said he's also opened discussions with neighboring Lehi, American Fork and Alpine to enter into interlocal firefighting agreements.