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COUNCIL: Council, Mayor Statement On Northwest Quadrant Agreement

Joint Council/Mayor statement:

The Salt Lake City Council, in our capacity as the Redevelopment Agency Board (RDA), has adopted the final component of a development agreement between the City and NWQ, LLC that was negotiated by RDA staff and approved by Mayor Jackie Biskupski in her role as Executive Director under proper planning, zoning, and land use regulations. The agreement, covering about 7,000 acres within City boundaries, preserves many City interests, including environmental safeguards that protect the migratory bird population and wetlands. It also preserves the City’s role in taxing and land use authority for this area. 

The Council was updated as negotiations progressed, and formally approved the negotiated development agreement in January 2018. The City’s legal process – including notice, public meetings, and Council review – was carried out fully. But while thorough, it had to be done quickly because of the Utah Legislature’s General Session, where we knew the State planned to take action.

Mayor Biskupski and the Council unanimously opposed SB 234 in March 2018, which created the Inland Port Authority (IPA) and placed 22,000 acres of Salt Lake City under the jurisdiction of the IPA. At the time, this action stripped Salt Lake City of any control over planning, zoning, land use, and tax increment from that area – but because the City had signed agreements with two major landowners in the area, the area subject to those agreements remained under City control.

Salt Lake City’s development agreement with NWQ, LLC was grandfathered by the legislation, since the agreement had been signed before SB 234 was passed. Of the 7,000 acres, the City secured preservation of about 4,000 acres – or the equivalent of 400 downtown city blocks – as natural open space and wildlife habitat. The remaining 3,000 acres just west of the International Center (an existing warehouse and manufacturing development) will be developed according to the agreement.

Had the City not approved the development agreement with NWQ, LLC, the City would have no say in how the property could be used. The land is privately held and development cannot be halted, but at least now it must comply with City zoning restrictions.

The final step in this tax increment arrangement funds necessary infrastructure (roads, water, sewer, and power). The City will not write a $28 million check. Tax increment financing simply allows public infrastructure to be paid for over time by those who benefit from it, using funds generated from the growth in property tax paid by this specific property.

The City does these types of agreements because we want to be directly involved in the planning, land use, and oversight of developments so that the City has a say in how those areas are developed.

This agreement demonstrates that the City can oversee development and do so in a manner that reflects our values, including real environmental protections. The tax increment agreement is the final step of fulfilling the City’s contracts with NWQ, LLC who is willing to develop their property and operate with the City as a fair partner.

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