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Sandy City is one step closer to the development of a new automall after approving a bid to start construction of the first phase.

After considering bids ranging from $109,000 to $200,000, City Council members approved a $109,000 bid for utility and road construction on the automall project. This bid, which remains well below the city's estimated budget of $138,000, allows construction of an access road connecting 10600 South to a proposed hotel and gas station in the automall area."With the road and utility systems construction now in place, that will allow us to proceed with the construction of the convenience store, restaurant and hotel projects," said developer Lynn Woodbury.

Woodbury Corp. has proposed to put together the automall between 10600 South and 11000 South and between I-15 and State Street within the next five to 10 years. The mall would include 14 to 15 auto dealerships, a 130-room Hampton Inn, a Phillips 66 service station and a convenience store.

The city has created a redevelopment area so it can subsidize the mall development by funneling new property taxes produced by the project into road, sewer and other improvements for the mall. The city also approved a special improvement district that requires property owners to pay for improvement costs that the RDA can't cover.

Woodbury Corp. still needs the city to rezone a large parcel of land. Approval, which is expected next week, will end two years of negotiations between the city and Woodbury Corp.

"It has taken longer than we initially expected when we got into the project but . . . at this point we feel very good," Woodbury said. "All of the major hurdles have now been overcome. And with the final adoption of the zoning ordinance, we will be able to move full speed ahead."

Other discussions related to the automall are:

- The city plans to condemn the property owned by Michael Carlson to construct a road in the automall area. Carlson, who controls 15.75 acres at 10700 South, appeared at a public hearing in May protesting inclusion of his property in the special improvement district.

Despite Carlson's objections, the city approved the automall special improvement district and will prepare condemnation documents and appraise and purchase Carlson's land.

"(The city) had the authority to create the district as long as there are not more than 50 percent of the property owners protesting it," said Wally Miller, Sandy city attorney.

Carlson was not available for comment; however, a letter he wrote to the Redevelopment Agency of Sandy city states, "We find the costs for this project to be prohibitive with little if any benefit to us. It would be unfair to assess all property owners for improvements with a 50 percent favorable ratio when Woodbury controls at least 70 percent of the property."

- The council also reviewed documents proposing a five- or seven-member architectural review committee, which will review construction plans submitted by auto dealers or businesses interested in locating in the automall.

"They will also establish an automall master plan," said Mike Coulam, director of Sandy's Community Development Department. "And that master plan will dictate a number of design criteria for the mall."