Last month, the Bountiful City Council voted to save the beleagured Redevelopment Agency, which three council members wanted to abolish.
On Wednesday, several buildings on the downtown Block 29 weren't so lucky.In January, demolition crews will raze the east-facing structures on Main Street from Center Street to (and including) the Davis County Co-op building.
Though the council members remain far from a consensus on what should be done with the block, they agree unanimously that before anything constructive can happen, the delapidated buildings must be destroyed. The structures, beside being unsightly, are a safety and health hazard, said Councilman Robert Gramoll.
"The buildings have little or no value in today's market when you consider what would have to be done to bring them up to code," said Gramoll, whose motion to raze the buildings also requires the two present occupants - the Co-op and the Children's Hour Bookstore - to vacate by Jan. 15 so demolition can begin.
But once the buildings come down, the rubble is removed and the dust settles, it's anyone's guess what to do with Block 29, bordered by Center and 100 South and Main Street and 100 West.
It was the latest failure of a developer to obtain financing for a shopping center on Block 29 that prompted three council members in August to vote for the abolition of the RDA, which owns most of the block. After learning of the numerous legal and financial problems with such a move, however, the council reversed itself in September.
The council, which along with the mayor forms the RDA, seems in no hurry to take any new action with the block - other than the demolition.
The RDA members tossed around several ideas for the block: Sell the property to the U.S. Postal Service, which has outgrown its post office across from the police station.
Mayor Robert Linnell said a post office downtown would create more traffic, which could possibly benefit downtown merchants. But the Postal Service is exempt from paying taxes so "the property would be taken off the tax rolls forever."
- Find another developer to build a retail center. This is the council's ideal plan because a successful retail venture would add hundreds of thousands of dollars to the city's tax coffers and revitalize the downtown business environment.
But the plan has failed three times already during the past decade, leaving many officials skeptical that the area will ever attract a large retailer.
"I don't think we're going to get a major shopping center downtown. It's just not going to fly," said Councilwoman Renee Coon.
- An art center. Several groups have asked the city to help build a large facility for the performing and visual arts.
Linnell pointed out that such a center would not only fail to produce tax revenue, it would consume city operating and maintenance funds.
- A park. Like an art center, a park would "look nice" and attract people downtown, Linnell said, but would not generate any revenue.
Councilman Les Foy, who suggested the art center, said he would move to landscape the property next spring if a developer hasn't been found.