City officials revealed to ABC 4 Utah that they are paying around $7 million for the proposed site of a new homeless resource center in Sugar House. They also admit the latest assessment on what they are buying is $2.8 million. It sounds exorbitant.
“We didn’t overpay for that at all,” says Mike Reberg from the Salt Lake City Mayor’s Office. He watched the negotiations for the site at 653 Simpson Avenue. Reberg says the assessment may be an old one and that property in Sugar House is hot right now.
“It’s actually pretty comparable what we paid for that piece of property. It’s pretty comparable to what is happening in the market right now for commercial property.”
Reberg revealed that the city offered $50 a square foot, the owner countered with $60 and the two sides settled on $55.
Some real estate agents questioned whether the property is worth that much, but they all admit that any piece of property is worth whatever someone is willing to pay for it.
The city hopes to be reimbursed by the state for much of the homeless project which includes 4 separate resource centers. Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes championed the cause of providing $9 million a year for 3 years to help deal with the homeless crisis.
He doesn’t want to get involved with second guessing whether Salt Lake is paying too much, he just wants the project to move forward so the legislative funding doesn’t dry up. He says that could happen if people start arguing over the price being paid for the homeless sites.
“We are at the beginning coming into the session,” says Hughes. “This is not the time to hit the pause button. This is a time for us, the state, county and city, to start moving forward and getting real things done.”
The Sugar House homeless site is the most controversial because it sits in the middle of a neighborhood. The city hasn’t decided which segment of the homeless population goes where. The residents in Sugar House would prefer women and children or families over a men’s shelter. No word on when those final decisions will be made.