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Lessons on housing during Salt Lake’s Olympics offered at Info Zone

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Don’t gouge your tenants just because the Olympics might come to town.

That’s just one of the lessons Bill Malone, manager of the Chamber of Commerce and Resort Associations in Park City, Utah, will share with Whistler residents at an Olympic Info Zone meeting on Nov. 6 at the Whistler Mountain Ski Club cabin in Creekside.

"Keep your eyes on the prize," said Malone, who was also on the Board of Trustees for the Salt Lake Olympic Organizing Committee.

"The prize is after the Games. It is the recognition and the worldwide attention that you receive in the long term.

"It is not how much money you can make in 17 days."

Malone admits there were people who made a lot of money during the Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake last February. But many who tried to rent out homes or retail space for ridiculous sums lost out in the long run.

"Most were still empty as the Games came and went," said Malone.

"It is a matter of pricing correctly. People we experienced with the Games were very willing to pay premium prices. They just weren’t willing to pay stupid prices.

"As a community you need to focus on what the real long-term benefits of being an Olympic venue community are.

"It is really not just about February of 2010. It is about December, January, and February of 2011 and who comes to see you then."

Malone said Park City relied on good education of landlords to get the message out to keep their regular tenants where possible. And they worked hard to help tenants who were worried they would be kicked out of their homes or space for the duration of the Games.

Past experience has shown that legislation doesn’t really work.

"I think there was a lot of trepidation with that at the beginning," said Malone.

"But I don’t think it really came through. Rents didn’t go up.

" There were retail spaces and nightly rentals which increased their charges for the Olympic time period. But in terms of the traditional long term residential side it did not go up.

"The people really did look at and said they would be in a better position to keep their tenants than to go for the short term gain."

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