Barely a decade after voters said yes to incorporation, Draper is starting to show signs of having reached puberty.
Just as adolescents endure voice changes and acne attacks en route to adulthood, Draper is undergoing a no-less dramatic maturing process.Since incorporating in February 1978 - primarily to avoid piecemeal annexation by neighboring Sandy - Draper's metamorphosis from quiet, pastoral farm land to that of a suburban bedroom community has been a gradual one - until lately that is.
Although Draper's lifestyle remains basically quiet and pastoral, there's evidence the times they are a changing:
* Opening of the VF Factory Outlet minimall in late 1986 signaled the start of an aggressive campaign by officials to attract economic development and increase the city's tax base.
* Annexation of 4,700 acres (big-city stuff) of unincorporated Utah County land in December 1987, to pave the way for the Arizona-based Estes Co.'s dream of building a multimillion dollar resort community high atop Traverse Ridge at Point of the Mountain.
* Ongoing talk of Draper's participation in another wishful project - the Wasatch SuperTunnel - a plan to burrow through 20 miles of granite from the city's back yard, near Point of the Mountain, all the way to Park City.
Now add to that growing list the establishment of a redevelopment agency. The agency was quietly created to help stimulate business growth in a 100-acre area between 10th East and 17th East and 120th South and 124th South, part of which was the old Alta Airport.
"We're happy to have it," said City Administrator Andy Hatton-Ward, discussing the agency's creation. "The city sees it as a vehicle to help several areas.
"We're definitely trying to take advantage of the tools available to us. And it's a powerful tool if used properly," Hatton-Ward said, noting that RDAs get a lot of bad press, especially over the use of their liberal condemnation powers.
Hatton-Ward said many people have heard horror stories about about small-businessmen whose property has been to make way for a giant high-rise or the like. "It really comes down to personal property rights vs. community rights, and the City Council (which doubles as the redevelopment agency's board of directors) is aware of that."
Community and Economic Development Director Grant Beagley, who will also serve as the RDA's executive director, tries to allay such fears. "We're not going to be condemning any property without the agreement of the property owner."
So far, this low-key approach has resulted in no opposition to the newly created agency. Nor do city officials expect any in the near future because the RDA's first proposed project area will require little, if any, use of condemnation. In fact, more than 90 percent of the project area's property owners reportedly requested the agency's formation.
Hatton-Ward said the project's first phase would consist of a $15 million strip center - including a large grocery store and professional office space along the lines of the recently completed Fiesta Village in Sandy. About one-forth of the project area was recently zoned for commercial use. A home improvement center, theater complex, tire store and additional retail space would follow in later phases.
Unlike typical RDA projects, however, the local developer, Pacific Land Corp., isn't asking that the agency issue tax-anticipation bonds to help finance the project. Instead, the RDA is being asked to pump the increment it will receive from the project into infrastructure improvements, such as roads (including the final connection of 13th East) and water and sewer lines.
The increment is the increase in the tax base generated by improvements made to the project area. This difference goes directly to the RDA rather than other taxing agencies - usually to pay off indebtedness incurred when the agency issues a bond for a development project.
Hatton-Ward said about $4.5 million would have to be spent for infrastructure improvements for the project, and he believes the developer's request for agency assistance is legitimate because many those improvements would benefit all of Draper - not just the developer.
Beagley said because of Draper's rural setting, improvements to the community's infrastructure are badly needed. Lack of infrastructure is a big reason development has moved as slowly as it has.
He said an RDA is a good way of meeting some of those infrastructure needs. A developer earmarks money up front for infrastructure improvements, and the city uses the increment realized from the project to repay some of that investment. "That's a good thing for the city," Beagley said.
Meanwhile, the council has commissioned Richard D. Chong & Associates to conduct a blight survey of the proposed project area. Preliminary reports suggest it meets the legal criteria for blight. A full report of the blight survey's findings, along with public hearings, will follow in either late May or early June.
If, as expected, citizens raise little protest to the project, Hatton-Ward said, it'll likely move forward as planned as fast as possible. Unexpected opposition, however, could send city officials scurrying back to the drawing board.
No one ever said growing up was easy.