The Salt Lake County District Attorney’s search for a long-term home is not exactly back to square one, but it’s no closer to being resolved.
The Salt Lake County Council, which controls the purse strings for the project, wants to look a little more at some of the options available. Several council members aren’t sold on the need to be "pioneers" in the creation of energy self-sufficient buildings, referring to a proposal to erect a six-story building on the southwest corner of 600 South and State Street that would have "net zero" energy consumption.
It was largely a formality, but the Salt Lake County Council formally approved two contracts Tuesday that govern the county’s relationship with Salt Lake City in the ownership and operations of the Utah Performing Arts Center (UPAC), a 2,500-seat Broadway-style theater planned for Main Street between 100 South and 200 South. The council was ready to OK the pacts last week but lacked a quorum to take formal action.
And some are concerned that, with the population center of the Salt Lake Valley quickly moving south and west, it might not be wise to invest too much into a downtown facility at the expense of also developing a county-owned site in West Jordan, closer to the growing masses.
So they asked County Mayor Ben McAdams to come back within 45 days with a preferred alternative from among five possible alternatives. One option, the council said, should consider developing both the Salt Lake City and West Jordan sites. Another should eliminate the NetZero approach — a course of action District Attorney Sim Gill said could waste a $2 million investment in building design.
The council wants those options reviewed by a committee appointed by the mayor. Gill pleaded for an expedited process. "We need to find a permanent solution," he said. "Delay has been costly."
The county council issued a $33 million bond in 2010 for buildings in Salt Lake City and West Jordan for the DA’s office, which currently leases space. But after Gill took office and reviewed the plans, the project’s forecasted price tag rose to almost $42 million. That drove Gil’s team to focus on developing the single downtown site.
But last summer, the low bid to build the energy-efficient structure came in at $50.8 million. The council said stop and instructed the mayor’s office and District Attorney to see if the project could be rebid (it couldn’t) and to see if suitable commercial properties nearby could satisfy the District Attorney’s needs (they didn’t).
Deputy Mayor Nichole Dunn said the six-month review confirmed that building a $45 million facility for the DA would save $13 million in leasing costs over 30 years.
She already has prepared materials for the council about four options, and has information about the fifth, prompting McAdams to say he will answer the council’s request in less than 45 days.
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