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Murray Journal

Murray spurs development despite pandemic/recession

Jul 01, 2020 01:30PM ● By Shaun Delliskave

The blighted Utah Ore Sampling Company mill may see new life as a professional office plaza. (Shaun Delliskave/City Journals)

By Shaun Delliskave | [email protected]

While the global economy has been hobbled by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and accompanying recession, Murray City has decided to move onward with its development projects. While the city will move forward on several longstanding projects, one notable exception, the Murray Theater, has been put on hold.

Renovation of the historic Murray Theater was scheduled to begin this year as the city had arranged for an architect and contractor to start drawing up plans. At the May 19 City Council Meeting, Mayor Blair Camp announced that matching funds for construction had evaporated.

The city received a termination of agreement notice from Salt Lake County, who had partnered with the city promising Tourism, Recreation, Culture & Convention (TRCC) funding for the Theater. The TRCC revenue comes from restaurants, car rentals and hotel room taxes. Due to the decrease in revenue projections, the County could not guarantee their obligation and withdrew from the agreement.

“There will be no TRCC process for 2021 because the County does not anticipate enough revenue for new projects. They will keep projects that have been cut off on a list for potential funding in the future,” Camp said. “This is disappointing, but not unexpected. The Murray Theater renovation will be postponed indefinitely.”

Demolition of existing structures near the future home of Murray City Hall commenced in May. One key component of the new downtown layout is extending Hanauer Street southward from 4800 South, where it will intersect with Vine Street.

Poplar Street, which would parallel the new Hanauer Street, will be converted into a parking lot between 4800 South and 5th Avenue to accommodate patrons, not only to city hall, but to the Murray Mansion reception center, also owned by the city. The mansion’s current parking lot will become part of the Hanauer roadway.

At the June 16 Redevelopment Agency of Murray City (RDA) meeting, the RDA board considered a resolution to approve conveyance of property owned by the Fraternal Order of the Eagles (FOE) on 4th Avenue. The deal with the FOE would convey Murray City property in exchange for vacating an alleyway, designing and constructing a new parking lot, and pay the FOE for additional property needed to extend Hanauer; the FOE parcel has a valuation of $75,693.

According to a memo from Melinda Greenwood, RDA deputy executive director, “Funding for the property acquisition will come from the Salt Lake County Road Funds previously granted to the city for the Hanauer Road extension.”

Receiving a new breath of life will be the redevelopment of the Utah Ore Sampling Company mill. The blighted property on 5510 S. 300 West sampled its last rock 70 years ago, but has since fallen into disrepair with its four-story tower, visible from I-15, a frequent target for graffiti.

Constructed originally in 1909 as the most extensive independent sampler (Evaluating a portion of ore shipment to determine its composition as an average representative composition of the entire bulk of ore) between Missouri and California. Aside from the railroad, the mill remains the most significant structure of Murray’s historic smelting industry.

A significant impediment to developing the property has been soil contamination from lead, arsenic and radium, and the associated costs of remediation—the B.C. Warner Investment Company hopes to turn the structure into a modern-day office park.

Warner has requested Murray for $2.5 million in Tax Increment Financing to help remediate the site. Notably, Warner would be required to clean the property down to native soils and haul off and dispose of radioactive substances.

If approved for TIF funding, the applicant’s next steps would be to subdivide the property so they can fence off and leave the northernmost area intact and undisturbed. Doing so reduces contamination remediation costs.

The RDA board heard a discussion regarding Warner’s proposal at the June 16 RDA meeting. The Warner group estimates their office project will be valued at $9,000,000, which would generate approximately $1,974,612 of TIF funding; this leaves the project funding request short by roughly $525,000.