Mormon church-owned site of former Salt Lake City landfill now in hands of state trust lands agency

(Rick Egan | Tribune file photo) Mike Reberg, Salt Lake City director of community and neighborhoods, talks about the plan to develop the city's northwest quadrant, directly west of Salt Lake City International Airport, and the International Center, Dec. 5, 2016.

The LDS Church has donated to the state a long-closed landfill in northwest Salt Lake City that’s mentioned as a likely location for the facility that would anchor a proposed global trade center.

The conveyance of the 770-acre site by Suburban Land Reserve, the church’s real-estate arm, to the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration was completed Feb. 28, culminating more than a year of discussions among the parties and Salt Lake City.

Suburban Land declined to comment Monday on the transaction. The property is assessed at $2.35 million.

The site extends for about 1.5 miles just north of Interstate 80 between 5600 West and 7200 West. Salt Lake City operated a landfill there from 1959 to 1979. The property contains what is considered typical municipal waste and is subject to a voluntary cleanup program administered by the state Department of Environmental Quality.

The land trust, known as SITLA, has looked at potential cleanup costs and found them “eminently” feasible from a cost and development perspective. The agency would sell or lease the land for development, revenues from which would go to support education.

“From our perspective, it’s a nice piece of property,” said Rodger Mitchell, assistant director of property planning and management.

The site is zoned for light manufacturing. An earlier plan called for cleaning up most of the site for development and moving and sealing off contaminants on a smaller parcel of the property.

Mitchell said the agency was “surprised” by the latest state plan for a 34-square-mile inland port jurisdiction in the area, anchored by an intermodal transportation complex where inbound and outbound cargo would be processed and transferred between rail cars and trucks for shipment. The landfill property is considered a prime site for that facility.

“We always knew there was potential for an inland port, but I was a little surprised that the state was that serious about it,” Mitchell said. “It’s a good thing, from a development perspective.”

The port authority bill, SB234, passed the Legislature March 7 and was signed by Gov. Gary Herbert Friday. Herbert, acknowledging concerns from the capital city over ceding land-use control and tax revenues to the new authority, has said he will call lawmakers into special session to make adjustments to the plan.

Salt Lake City, with a recently approved master plan for developing that mostly vacant section of the city, was eyeing its own inland port plan for the area. The city was involved in discussions between SITLA and the church’s real-estate arm related to the landfill cleanup and wants a say on that project if the port facility is developed there.

“There was well over a year worth of conversations trying to come up with a path forward that made financial and economic sense,” said Lara Fritts, director of the city’s Department of Economic Development. “The city wants to make sure that we’re at the table as part of the conversation, regardless of who owns it.”