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Kem C. Gardner

Chairman, Gardner Co.

You and Roger Boyer of The Boyer Co. have developed The Gateway, One Utah Center, Brickyard Plaza, Sugar House Commons and Business Depot Ogden, among many others. What's the process in buying property?

There may be as many as 40 different landowners for a single commercial development, and if only one refuses to sell, it will block the entire project. We offer fair-market appraisal that is subject to all of the lot owners selling. I suppose you could say that we rely more on pressure from the landowners themselves because they all must agree or there won't be any sales. With The Gateway, we took 40 acres of railroad track and created a gathering place, where people could work, enjoy culture experiences such as the planetarium and the Children's Museum, where they could go for entertainment, shop and have a place where they could live.

A Supreme Court ruling forcing landowners to sell to private developers began with a split 5-4 decision last June in the case of Kelo v. New London, and it's been controversial ever since. Have you used eminent domain for urban revitalization in any of your developments?

I do believe eminent domain has a place if there's a justifiable community benefit. But we have never used eminent domain or even the threat of it in the 33 years and 20 million square feet of commercial office and retail space that we have developed. There have been instances where we purchased property where the seller asked city officials for a letter saying they sold under the treat of eminent domain because it gives them a special tax advantage.

Describe an unscrupulous developer.

Too many developers build to sell. They create urban sprawl. They're frequently not in the project for the long term. They get every bit of density. They don't allow for open space. There are no parks for children. You would be shocked at the number of people who tie up property until they can sell it and take their share without doing anything on the piece. When you build to own, you build more quality, you concentrate on the mechanical systems, you spend more time. You make an investment in the community. It doesn't come easy because you can't take out money, you've got to build up equity. I remember that it took nine years and multiple revisions when we developed the Redstone at Kimball Junction. We also gave more than 20 acres to Swaner Memorial Park. While it was a long process, Redstone is a jewel, something everyone can be proud of.

What's your relationship with The Boyer Co., and where you are going now?

I graduated from law school at the University of Utah and Roger Boyer graduated with an MBA. He started The Boyer Company in 1972 and came and asked me about starting an equity portfolio with him. I asked what it was and he said it was finding good tenants and building buildings that we would want to own. We were a partnership until we reached a point (in 2005) where our children wanted to join the business, so I began the Gardner Co. I work with Roger on existing projects, but the new developments we each do on our own. My daughter Kimberly (Martin) and my three sons, Matthew, Andrew and Christian, work with me. I tell them that we are real-estate developers, not passive investors. I've seen property flip too many times with everyone taking money and nothing being done, so I tell my children we're not flippers. We're in the business of development. We're not from out of state - we live here.

- Dawn House,