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Rick Howa's five-year saga to buy and then develop an empty strip of the 300 West Marmalade district is over.

The developer failed to submit a retooled design before a recent Salt Lake City Redevelopment Agency deadline, asking instead for more time. That request, which follows a stalemate over adding housing on the block between 500 North and 600 North, was denied.

"The RDA board and the community are eager to have something on that property," RDA Executive Director D.J. Baxter said Monday. "Given the developer's request for another year's extension, it didn't seem that the development was imminent."

Howa did not respond Monday to a request for comment.

The City Council, acting as the RDA board, already had granted Howa multiple extensions since negotiations began in 2005. Howa initially planned 80 vista-rich condominiums, town homes, eateries and shops. Last fall he scrapped the housing in favor of offices, a market and a bank.

Now, Howa's $1.3 million purchase agreement is history, and the city will start over by marketing the Marmalade block to a new developer.

Baxter says the board may opt to issue a new bid request, although it may be tailored differently. Instead of putting the entire chunk up for sale, the city may hang on to a portion of the land for a future branch library. The RDA also may try to incorporate a natural spring, which hugs 300 West, as a water feature that could be a community amenity.

Despite missing the latest deadline, Howa could offer a new proposal, Baxter says, when the bid is submitted. Howa recently completed three retail buildings, available for lease, on the west side of 300 West. The city wants him to finish the landscaping on that property by May 1.

When the developer downsized the project last September, multiple council members urged him to reconsider and add some housing.

"We're cutting a corner that probably shouldn't be cut," Council Chairman J.T. Martin said at the time.

Howa pointed to the freeze on financing, noting no banker was willing to bankroll condos in the down economy.

"I would have loved to build the original plan," Howa told the RDA board. "But the bank said no."

After five years of waiting, the city said no more.


Budget pushed back a week

Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker will present his 2010-11 budget at 7 p.m on April 27. at City Hall. The city is wrestling with a $20 million budget gap after a second straight year of sluggish sales taxes. The City Council will review Becker's recommendations before adopting a budget in June. The mayor initially had planned to make his presentation tonight.