S.L. County willing to commit tax money to Draper high-tech project

Published: Friday, Dec. 21 2012 6:15 p.m. MST

DRAPER — A multimillion dollar high-tech business center in Draper moved a step closer to reality Friday with the Salt Lake County Council expressing willingness to invest tax dollars in the project.

The council unanimously voted to authorize the mayor's office to negotiate an interlocal agreement with the city that would commit as much as $44 million of the county's future tax revenue from the development over 20 years. The money would subsidize the construction of roads, water, sewer and power lines and future parking structures on the site.

"We're excited about the project," said Draper Mayor Darrell Smith. "The project is something that has been unfolding for a long time."

Draper wants the county to participate in a 144-acre transit-oriented development at a new FrontRunner stop at 13000 South just west of I-15. The city zoned the site for office buildings of unlimited height and unlimited density along with retail space and housing.

City officials say developer Jeff Vitek of California-based Four Square Properties has at least two major companies ready to commit to the project. Global online auction marketer eBay is currently expanding its facility in the area and the Utah Transit Authority is building a parking structure.

Draper estimates the current taxable value on the property, which is mostly lowly taxed greenbelt, would rise from $6 million to $1.2 billion as the project develops over 20 years.

Salt Lake County would be among several taxing entities to participate in the development, with the largest contributor being the Canyons School District.

Councilman Jim Bradley voted in favor of moving forward but wants the county to do it cautiously. He noted the tax dollars the county would commit to the Draper project exceeds the combined total of seven or eight other commercial development areas in which it is involved.

He doesn't oppose providing some assistance to attract new business, but said he isn't keen on seeing public money go to transit-oriented developments. He said he's not interested in public funding for retail or housing projects because those are market driven.

"The private sector can show up and suit up and do what they do," Bradley said.

Jeff Edwards, president of the Economic Development Corporation of Utah, said the project has the potential to attract a variety of high tech businesses and high paying jobs.

"I think this is an opportunity for the county to invest in the long-term future of the whole southern end of Salt Lake County. This is a chance to create a new economic engine for our state," he said.

The council gave the mayor narrow parameters for negotiating the agreement with Draper, limiting it to the portion of the project devoted to attracting new companies. Any agreement would go back to the council for final approval.

E-mail: romboy@desnews.com

Twitter: dennisromboy

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