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Salt Lake County ponders joining 345-acre Draper project

Published December 11, 2012 10:00 pm

Development • City is working to develop land around new FrontRunner station.
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Salt Lake County officials need a little more time before deciding whether to join Draper in helping finance plans for a major development around the city's FrontRunner train station.

But they don't have much time.

Draper officials are asking the county for a decision before year's end. They contend big companies that potentially could become tenants in the development want assurances of public financing for infrastructure — particularly a multi-story parking terrace — before the federal fiscal cliff or the government's responses to it change investment incentives.

But before the county acts, council members said they want assurances of their own from two financial committees that the county's requested investment of $44 million in tax-increment financing over the next 20 years is, in Councilman Jim Bradley's words, "a good deal for the public."

And the council gave Chairman David Wilde the flexibility to schedule a special meeting after the county's proposed participation in Draper's "transit-oriented development" is analyzed by its Debt Review Committee and the technical review committee for community development areas (CDAs).

Draper's plan is to create a 345-acre CDA around the FrontRunner station at 12800 S. Front Runner Blvd. (approximately 550 West) and adjacent to eBay's new building. The city intends to foster the construction of large office buildings in the CDA, said Mayor Darrell Smith, and has a couple of high-tech companies considering moving their headquarters there.

Those decisions could come down to whether public entities — the county as well as Canyons School District and other taxing districts — agree to pass through to the developer 75 percent of the new property taxes generated by the project over the next 20 years.

That public investment would be used to pay for the parking terrace and other infrastructure improvements. The county's share of $44 million is part of an overall request of $199 million from public entities to support the endeavor.

David Dobbins, Draper's acting city manager, told the council two weeks ago that the largely undeveloped property is now worth about $6 million. Its value is projected to go up to $1.2 billion in the next 20 years, with companies attracted to the development employing more than 33,000.

Although the county would give up immediate tax revenue by participating in the CDA, Dobbins predicted it would get three to four times more tax revenue back in the long run if the development pans out as envisioned.

If the county's tax-increment support is not available, Mayor Smith added, Draper could lose the high-tech companies to Lehi, which seems willing to use public financing to make Thanksgiving Point those companies' future home.


Twitter: @sltribmikeg




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