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Mayor Jackie Biskupski's choice to head Salt Lake City's Redevelopment Agency is leaving the post after seven months.

Justin Belliveau, who became interim RDA head in January after Biskupski fired D.J. Baxter and then rose to chief administrative officer in May, will depart at year's end.

Belliveau, a 41-year-old attorney with an MBA, said Thursday he was leaving to fulfill his longtime dream of owning and operating a craft beer brewery.

A six-year veteran of RDA operations, Belliveau's departure also comes with the agency in the midst of a major reorganization, initiated by the first-term mayor. The RDA has since been caught up in power struggles between Biskupski and the City Council.

"The timing of it is terrible," Belliveau acknowledged. But agency disquiet, he said, "is not driving my decision. This is something I've wanted to do for years."

After working on a brewery-business plan on the side, Belliveau said, he and two partners recently agreed to acquire property for such an operation in northwest Salt Lake City.

"So I could either let this opportunity pass me by and be asking what-ifs for the rest of my life," the Boston native said, "or I could take my shot."

Belliveau, who said he "was not leaving with any sense of animosity," added that he was "fully committed to making the transition as smooth as possible."

Biskupski said she was excited for his future and praised Belliveau as "a strong and steady director and dedicated to our city's economic growth and vitality."

"He has made an imprint on our city," the mayor said in a news release, "and we will miss him."

No details were available Thursday on finding Belliveau's replacement.

A graduate of Boston College and the University of Utah, Belliveau became a deputy director at the RDA in October 2010.

He has been instrumental in the RDA's work on the newly opened George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Theater on Main Street, particularly soliciting millions of private donations for the project.

Councilwoman Lisa Adams, who also heads the RDA board, said she was "really sad for the city" and called his departure "a big loss for the RDA."

"Justin's leadership on the development of the Eccles Theater and Regent Street helped make our dreams for that part of downtown a reality," Adams said. "He's a key player in whatever he is asked to do for the city."

Shortly after taking office in January, Biskupski began a reorganization of several city divisions, including the RDA, in a move to designed to raise the profile of economic development at City Hall. The mayor also launched a redistribution of powers over the RDA between her office and the council. Among other changes, she made herself the agency's executive director — a title previously held by Baxter — and designating Belliveau as CAO.

Biskupski has said the shift was meant to bring the RDA into compliance with state law.

Twitter: @TonySemerad