Members of the Salt Lake Redevelopment Agency board agree they need to set a clear policy regarding the use of tax increment funding to foster economic development.

But before they could formulate such a mission statement, City Council members, wearing their alternate hats as the RDA board, put their yet-to-be-developed policy to work.In the past, the redevelopment tool of capturing newly generated tax dollars and plowing them back within a designated project area has been used only on the city's old, decaying buildings or blighted blocks.

But the RDA Thursday agreed to begin preliminary work to set up redevelopment project areas on two parcels of raw ground. "In a way, we are talking economic development instead of redevelopment," said Councilwoman Sydney Fonnesbeck.

The RDA is looking at 25.9 acres of land in the Glendale area, on which developer Bruce Anderson wants to build single-family homes, and 80 acres of industrially zoned land owned by the Salt Lake City International Airport.

Councilman L. Wayne Horrocks, who represents the district where Anderson plans to build houses, said people are excited new homes are planned within city limits. "People are excited that that vacant land is going to be useful. It's a good effort to start getting people back into the city."

Anderson's proposal includes use of RDA's tax-generated dollars to build public infrastructure, such as sidewalks and curb and gutter systems. That will help keep the houses affordable to young families who otherwise might be forced to suburban homes.

In other action during the monthly RDA meeting Thursday, the agency approved a loan of up to $750,000 to the partnership of Briarwood Partners for improvements to the historic Clift Building. "It's an improvement loan for a historic structure," said John M. Schumann, spokesman for the partnership.

The 1920 building, named in honor of pioneer Francis Clift, is located at Third South and Main, a strategic downtown corner. The RDA would be protected from default by a letter of credit, and the loan will be used as a "bridge" to complete improvements and enhance occupancy before a permanent loan is obtained.

This is the first time the RDA has made a historic improvement loan for commercial property they don't intend to acquire. "The whole word redevelopment suggests this is what we should be doing more of," Fonnesbeck said.

In other news, the agency board heard their current year's budget might be reduced as much as $115,000.