When FHP of Utah Inc. builds its $60 million medical complex in South Salt Lake's city center, homeowners in nearby rundown neighborhoods could benefit.
Those homeowners include South Salt Lake Mayor Jim Davis and two members of the City Council - Melvin E. Olsen and Holly L. Carson.The three own homes within blocks of the 28 acres purchased by FHP. The development extends from the south side of 2430 South to 2700 South between State and Main streets.
Davis said his homes - located at 36 West and 40 West on 2700 South - were deeded to him by his parents. He has lived in both of them - and strongly resents implications from some residents that he could profit from a family inheritance when the new hospital is built.
But Davis and others could benefit.
South Salt Lake currently is studying the entire South Gate neighborhood (2100 South to 3300 South and from State Street to 200 West) to determine how it will be affected by FHP's multimillion-dollar complex.
Proposed by a citizens' group and business owners, the study was approved by the City Council, which hired a consultant to do a master plan of South Gate.
"What they are studying is how to preserve the housing in that area. As a component, there may be some redevelopment activity. They are looking at building apartment complexes, new housing, and housing rehabilitation," Davis said. "If someone buys all the houses, cleans up the neighborhood and I can sell my houses at a profit because of it, then I guess I would profit. But it's not going to reap me a windfall."
Davis says the council-approved study is not an analysis to determine the area's eligibility for redevelopment. It's strictly a strategic plan to determine how best the land can be utilized.
"The pressure has been on us to turn it into commercial developments. For 10 years, it has been the council's and my objective to preserve the housing - which is probably contrary to our best interests," the mayor said.
Now the mere suggestion by some residents that Davis - and the two council members - could get richer from the master plan they approved makes the mayor livid.
"Five years ago we lowered property taxes and I benefited from that, but that wasn't the intention in lowering taxes," Davis said.
The mayor, who owns a third home on South Salt Lake's east side, said he also never has taken advantage of housing-rehabilitation money available to city residents.
"I don't steal paper clips, and I go home to make private calls also," he said.