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6.8-acre purchase by W.V. may unlock a 250-acre area

At $169,853 an acre, it's not cheap.

But city officials have agreed that the chance to buy 6.8 acres north of 3300 South at about 1300 West for $1.15 million is a deal that's too good to pass up.Especially to acquire a piece of ground the city's top economic development official says eventually may prove almost as important to West Valley City as the construction of the E Center.

That's because the purchase will unlock a 250-acre area west of the river - a patchwork of land currently held by an assortment of public and private owners - for future commercial and recreational development.

So West Valley City's Municipal Building Authority stepped up Jan. 29 and approved a resolution calling for the sale of $1.15 million in taxable lease revenue bonds in order to buy the prop-er-ty.

By purchasing the ground from Alder Construction Co., the city gains some control over a key eastern gateway to West Valley City and will be in a position to influence the appearance of the business district there.

Bob Buchanan, the city's economic development director, said the plan is to develop a unique combination of uses for the property that include:

- Sale of the section of property fronting 3300 South for a commercial development that will satisfy the city's goals for that area.

- Development of open space and recreational opportunities on the rest of the land, which adjoins county-owned property abutting the west side of the Jordan River.

- Determining a historic and/or cultural use for part of the area, as recommended by the recent Rural/Urban Design Assistance Team (RUDAT) report prepared for West Valley City.

Buchanan said he would like to see an international or intercultural theme for the area, and indicated that might even include a festival grounds for the celebration of cultural diversity.

In past discussions, the council has considered various options for enhancing the area such as a Chesterfield Historic District, a pioneer gardens, the Great Basin Botanical Gardens, a festival site and a Fremont Indian Living Museum.

"We see a great opportunity for a major project here," said Buchanan. "We also anticipate there will be open space . . . there are significant wetlands involved."

The acquisition of the land and its planned development is so significant to the community, he said, "that it rivals the construction of the E Center" in its importance.

No specific plan has been developed at this point, Buchanan said, but city planners hope to come up with something for discussion within the next three to four months.

"It's not cheap land," he said, "but it's commercial land and that's a reasonable price of it."

The land is being purchased for $3.85 per square foot, Buchanan said, adding some property near Redwood Road recently has sold for $8 to $10 per square foot.

City Manager John Patterson said West Valley already has received inquiries from parties interested in acquiring the land for substantially more than the city is paying for it.