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LAND OFFER TOO GOOD FOR DRAPER TO PASS UP

The carrot has been dangling in front of them for months, but until Tuesday members of the City Council had been hesitant to reach out for it - or even admit they wanted it.

Developers Terry Diehl and Dee Christiansen have said they will give the city land in their huge South Mountain development if it will build its proposed $4 million City Hall building there. Despite concerns that such a move could doom Draper's historic downtown district, even the most reluctant council members agreed Tuesday the city should take them up on the offer."I've really struggled hard with whether this should go up there or not," Councilman Paul Lunt said during the joint work session with the Planning Commission. "I think for the best of the city, it shouldn't . . . but it'll be an extra 10 years (before a new City Hall is built) if we don't go up there."

South Mountain, a 1,700-unit subdivision planned for the bench below Traverse Mountain, is in the geographic center of town but is more than a mile south of the old downtown commercial district.

Councilman Jeff Rasmussen said the location would be inconvenient for some residents but praised the beauty of the site, as did other council members.

The new building is to be located at the heart of South Mountain's European-style "city center," at about 14200 South near the planned extension of Highland Drive. It would be adjacent to other buildings containing office and retail space.

City Manager David Campbell said the city could lease the bottom floor of the four-story City Hall and probably earn half of the annual debt it would owe for the building's construction. That means the city could build it without having to raise taxes, he said.

Campbell specifically asked the council for its informal support of the South Mountain site Tuesday. The city has already commissioned an architect to design a building for that site, but Campbell was still hearing some council members say they weren't so sure.

Just 13 months ago, the council was poised to stay put and spend $2.1 million to renovate the former Park Elementary School, 12441 S. 900 East, where City Hall has been located since 1979. That option was favored by a majority of residents who spoke at a public hearing in February 1994.

Since then, Mayor Elaine Redd said Tuesday, she has seen several longtime downtown businesses fail. She said she doubts the relocation of City Hall would cause the historic district to further deteriorate and said the council must allay public fears that the city will abandon the area altogether.

The council pledged support for remodeling the current City Hall and turning it into a community center with an expanded county library, museum and art collection. The city likely would have to sell bonds to pay for the remodeling, Campbell said, and citizens would have the opportunity to vote for or against the bond issue. A recent survey indicated residents might be willing to pay higher taxes to fund the project.

Campbell said City Hall construction could begin within 60 days.