DRAPER Homebuyers are shelling out big bucks to have Utah's newest Latter-day Saints temple as their next-door neighbor.
The promise of a third Salt Lake Valley temple in Draper's Corner Canyon has sent land values soaring as residents snap up land surrounding the 12-acre lot.
"Real estate in Draper is expensive as it is, but this is stratospheric," City Manager Eric Keck said. "I think people are going to want to be able to boast to their friends that they live near the temple."
Though construction on the temple has not started yet, the buzz surrounding the site is in full force.
Benji Nelson, a developer and land owner in the Corner Canyon area, sold all of the lots in his "Cove" subdivision when word of a Draper temple was still a rumor last year. But with a temple guarantee announced in November, the 1/2-acre lots he sold for $150,000 are selling quickly for more than $300,000.
"Once they announced it, it seems like everybody wants to be there," Nelson said. "One thing is the beauty of what the LDS Church creates and the spirit that is potentially around here. It's not something you can get every day."
Nelson, who swapped a portion of his land with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for a stake center near the temple site, said he had an inkling that the temple would find a home in Draper and that land values would jump like they did around the Jordan River Temple in South Jordan and around the Bountiful Temple.
Since the temple was officially slated for the lot at about 2000 East and 14000 South, four residential subdivisions have seen lots and million-dollar homes selling at double the normal rate, Keck said.
The clamor to be close to the temple is not out of the norm, church spokesman Dale Bills said. Temples tend to bring highly sought after and highly priced lots, he said.
"The church endeavors to be a good neighbor, uses highest quality materials in construction and landscaping and obviously maintains the property," Bills said.
Those qualities produced a similar price jump in Bountiful when the LDS temple there was dedicated in 1995, City Manager Tom Hardy said. The park-like landscaping and "magnificent lighting" around the temple were a magnet for homebuyers in Bountiful, he said. The temple schedule closed on Sundays and Monday nights was also a major draw for residents.
"It's a quiet neighbor. It does not create loud ruckus traffic and it's not a business where everybody leaves at 5 in the afternoon," he said.
The pricey homes surrounding the temple have maintained their value, Hardy said, and are usually gobbled up within just days of being on the market.
Draper city leaders are hoping the temple will also give the entire Corner Canyon area an economic and aesthetic boost, Keck said. The city is buying open space in the canyon that will set the temple against undeveloped moun- tainside instead of surrounding it with homes.
Keck added that the landscaping and open space around the temple may prompt homeowners to take more pride in the appearance of their own homes.
"The church does everything Class A and we know that's going to be the case here," Keck said. "At first I wasn't even thinking that the temple site in Draper would be an economic development tool. I was thinking more of the prestige of having it in the community."
Being a host to the temple also brings a balance to the prison the city has harbored on its west side for more than 50 years.
"It's an interesting contrast. The prison is a necessary evil; we haven't always had the same sense of pride in that facility," Keck said.
The Draper temple will be the third in Salt Lake Valley along with the Salt Lake Temple and the Jordan River Temple 10200 S. 1300 West which was dedicated in 1981. President Gordon B. Hinckley first announced the construction of a new valley temple in the church's October General Conference, saying the facility was needed to relieve overcrowding at the Jordan River Temple.Utah now has 11 temples from Logan to St. George. There are 130 LDS temples in use, under construction or in the planning stages worldwide.