Syracuse agrees to sell, not finance land to developer

Jun 2 2013 - 11:34pm

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SYRACUSE -- City officials will sell, but not finance, 60 acres of land on the south side to a prospective developer.

Members of the city council voted unanimously Tuesday to say no to a proposal to finance the sale of 60 acres of city land near Jensen Park to Irben Development LLC, of Roy. An 18-month plan to finance the sale to the developer was seen as an incentive to spur the development.

Irben has announced plans to develop Still Water Lake Estates, a project expected to include two 2,200-by-220-foot lakes with 24 lots surrounding the bodies of water, each with a private dock and boatlift.

Irben had agreed to purchase 60 acres of undeveloped land at Jensen Park for approximately $1.9 million. The acreage is west of 1000 West, east of 2000 West and north of 3700 South. The company also owns 25 acres adjacent to the park land. The proposed route for the North Davis Corridor goes through a portion of the property.

Taylor Spendlove with Irben said company officials have the financing in place to complete the 60-acre purchase but the plan would have allowed the company to make the purchase in payments, easing some of the strain for upfront costs for the project. He said getting funding for undeveloped land from banks is increasingly difficult.

Patrick Scott with Brighton Homes agrees. Brighton would be the builder for the development.

"Is any real estate a sure thing? This allows us to spend more money upfront on infrastructure. It makes it easier to make the project work, as opposed to having to carry the land through the whole project," Scott said

Councilman Brian Duncan was uncomfortable with the proposal from several angles.

"My problem with this whole process is we're not a bank. I don't have a problem with Irben. We need to sell it (the 60 acres) to someone who can buy it. I'm OK with selling this to Irben, but I'm not OK with financing it," Duncan said. He said he was also uncomfortable with being the seller and the land-use authority on the same project.

Council members pressed Scott on how much the sale of some of the property to the Utah Department of Transportation for the corridor would go to financing for the development.

Scott said a big portion of the possible sale to UDOT would go to the development.

Spendlove said Irben officials are trying to meet with UDOT to see what happens with the property. North Davis Corridor Project Manager Randy Jeffries was present for the property discussion.

Councilman Larry Shingleton said he might have voted differently on selling to Irben months ago when the sale was first publicized if he knew financing the sale would be part of the process.

"If these had been the terms at the beginning, would we have sold it? There are lots of ifs, whats and hows that come with this," Shingleton said of the proposal.

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