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30-Year-Old Deal Could Save Salt Lake County Millions of Dollars

A deal made more than 30 years ago between the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Salt Lake County could end up saving taxpayers millions of dollars.

In 1964 the LDS church leased the land where Abravenel Hall and the northern part of the Salt Palace Convention center now sit to Salt Lake County for one dollar a year for 50 years. Over time the contract was modified and in 1984 the two sides struck a deal that would allow the County to purchase the land for its fair market value in 1984, plus interest. A total that now adds up to slightly more than $6 million dollars. The catch, they have to purchase the land by November of 2016. Salt Lake County Council Chair Steve DeBry says while he doesn’t have all the information, he thinks it’s a no brainer.

“It just makes sense to me that if we can get ground that our structures are sitting on for $6 million and the ground’s worth between $20 and $25 million, I think that’s pretty elementary," he says. "Anyone can say that’s a good deal and that we ought to do it.”

DeBry says that they could pay for it with unused bond money issued in 2010 to construct a new office for the District Attorney.

“We’re renegotiating some issues there with the mayor and the council and the District Attorney and looking at some different alternatives there, so, it’s put us behind," he says. "But, we have to start drawing down on those bonds before we’re really ready to go with the DA building.”

The Salt Lake County Council has not given a timeline for when they will discuss the issue and it is not on any of the upcoming meeting agendas. Besides purchasing the land there are several other options available to the council, including renegotiating the terms of the current lease.

View SLCO Land Leased from LDS Church in a larger map

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