The Salt Lake City Redevelopment Agency has been asked to move cautiously in committing public funds for the proposed $40 million, 20-story high-rise on the city's ailing Block 57.
The Mayor's Downtown Committee, made up of businessmen and developers, approved a motion this week recommending the Salt Lake City Council, which doubles as the RDA, carefully study a proposal by Roger Boyer to build the office and retail tower on the block at 200 S. Main. However, the committee said it is enthused by the proposal.The motion was made by Walker Wallace of Wallace Assoc., a consultant who is being paid by the city to design a master plan for the block. That plan has been stalled by a lawsuit filed against the city by a landowner on Block 57.
Boyer is negotiating with RDA Executive Director Michael Chitwood to reach an agreement on the amount of a tax break Boyer should receive on property taxes paid on the proposed building site on the northwest corner of the block where the old J.C. Penney building now stands.
On July 23, Boyer lowered his request for a tax increment break from $4.5 million to $2.5 million. Chitwood offered Boyer $500,000, but RDA Chairwoman and City Council member Florence Bittner said the city recently increased its offer "significantly.'
The committee met in a vacant building on Block 57 established by DePaulis as the "Downtown Headquarters" for the effort to revitalize the city's central business district.
DePaulis told committee members the corner Boyer would build on could "develop itself" without the RDA assistance, suggesting the city should not act hastily on a proposal made by the first developer to "come down the chute."
Wallace, emphasizing the city is waiting to complete a master plan for the block, told the committee consideration of the Boyer proposal before completion of the master plan was "reversing the order in which development is done."
"I think it's premature to make any kind of commitment," he said, adding that the development could compromise plans envisioned by the downtown committee and the proposed master plan for the block.
Boyer's plan could interfere with a proposal for an underground transit center underneath the block. It could also disrupt tentative plans for a park in the center of the block and a coherent parking plan for the block, Wallace said.
Wallace also questioned the propriety of the city offering a hefty tax break to an office building developer that could take away business from other developers struggling without RDA assistance.
"How much propriety is in the city subsidizing more competition?" he asked.
DePaulis expressed some enthusiasm for the proposal, calling it "good news" that could indicate the city is "coming out of a period where things were slumping and stagnant."