Land deal finalized to clean up, develop old Salt Lake landfill, likely for inland port

SALT LAKE CITY — A real estate arm of the LDS Church has donated to a state agency the site of the old Salt Lake City landfill — a 770-acre property in the city’s northwest quadrant that has long been eyed as part of an inland port development.

The land, located north of I-80 between 5600 West and 7200 West, was owned by Suburban Land Reserve, a real estate arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, up until late last month, when discussions were finalized to transfer the land to the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration.

Rodger Mitchell, assistant director of the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration’s property and planning management, confirmed Wednesday that the Suburban Land Reserve had donated the land, a transfer finalized Feb. 28.

The property has an assessed value of $2.35 million, according to the Salt Lake County assessor’s website.

“It’s a good piece of property,” Mitchell said. “And now we need to go in and plan it.”

Dale Bills, spokesman for Suburban Land Reserve, declined comment on the transaction and referred questions to the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration.

The area has been long discussed as a prime location for an inland port development because of its proximity to rail, interstates and the Salt Lake City International Airport.

Mitchell said discussions with Salt Lake City regarding cleanup and development of the old landfill have been in the works for “well over a year,” though he said the land deal has had “really no connection” to the recently passed bill to create an inland port jurisdiction area over about 20,000 acres of Salt Lake City’s northwest quadrant.

“We knew legislators were talking about it, but we have been in conversations with Salt Lake City,” Mitchell said. “So it took us kind of by surprise how fast and serious (lawmakers) were about it.”

“But it can be a really good thing,” he added. “The state can bring more assets to the table and more investment.”

The inland port bill, SB234, was signed by Gov. Gary Herbert last week despite outcry from Salt Lake City leaders that a new governing board would usurp city land use control and would have the power to capture up to 100 percent of the area’s tax increment. Herbert has acknowledged the city’s concerns and has indicated he will call a special session to make adjustments to the bill.

Though it’s too soon to say exactly how the land would be integrated into an inland port development, Mitchell said, “we think an inland port would certainly enhance the value of the property — all the properties down there.”

But the former landfill site would first need to be cleaned up.

Those costs could be tens of millions, Mitchell said, but he added the state agency has determined it would be “economically feasible” to consider the land for future remediation, and the property could be subject to a voluntary cleanup program administered by the Utah Department of Environmental Quality.

The school lands trust manages a real estate portfolio and deposits profits from development to a fund for Utah’s public education system. It’s too soon to say how much of a return the landfill property could yield once it’s developed, Mitchell said, but the agency projects the site could result in significant income for the trust fund.

“We’ve got a lot of steps we have to take,” Mitchell said, but he expects the plans will be developed over the next year, and cleanup will likely take a year or two.

Prior to SB234, Salt Lake City officials had been working on development agreements with northwest quadrant property owners on the creation of an inland port development, but this week, city leaders pushed pause on future development agreements until issues with the bill could be addressed in a special session.

Lara Fritts, director of the city’s Department of Economic Development, said Salt Lake City officials have “contemplated” the possibility of creating a project area that included the 770-acre site of the landfill, but had been waiting until a plan could be put in place for remediation of the site.

“We were hopeful that we could continue to do the great planning that we’ve been doing, but obviously the inland port bill has put a pause on that activity,” Fritts said.

She said it’s also too soon to say how the property would be integrated into an inland port development, but because of its location to rail and interstate, the land could be a good fit for an “intermodal facility” or an area serviced by rail where cargo could be unloaded onto trucks for delivery.

Either way, Salt Lake City is “supportive of the effort” as long as city leaders have a seat “at the table,” Fritts said.

Mitchell said the state agency is committed to working with the city, neighboring landowners and other stakeholders as plans for the area are developed.

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Utah Senate President Wayne Niederhauser stepping down from Legislature at year’s end

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Senate President Wayne Niederhauser not only won’t run again for his leadership position but he won’t be in the Legislature at all.

The Sandy Republican previously announced he wouldn’t run for another term as president but as recently as last week said he intended to seek re-election to the Senate.

But Niederhauser said Wednesday he started to question that decision as the 2018 Legislature adjourned late last Thursday.

“For the last few days, I have carefully evaluated the pros and cons of seeking another term in office. The pros outnumbered the cons almost 3 to 1,” He said.

“While on paper the decision seemed obvious, an inner voice said, ‘This is the very reason you shouldn’t run for office again,'” he said. “This message may seem confusing, but to me the meaning is clear: When you begin to think you are even a little indispensable, it is time to step away.”

The Legislature is now losing its two most powerful leaders.

House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper, announced before the 2018 legislative session that he wouldn’t seek re-election to his House seat.

Niederhauser, 58, was elected to the Senate in 2006, representing Sandy, Alta and Cottonwood Heights. He has served as Senate president since 2012. His current term ends this year.

“It is time for a new face with fresh energy and ideas,” Niederhauser said, adding that representing his district and serving as Senate president has been one of the great experiences of his life. He said it changed him as a person and enhanced his character and abilities.

Niederhauser, a CPA and real estate broker, brought an easygoing style to legislative leadership. He expressed gratitude to his colleagues for “taking a chance on me — a bean-counting budget wonk.”

This session, he pushed a bill to expand Utah’s ability to develop toll roads — including in the Cottonwood canyons — as way to raise money for transportation to offset the state general fund from subsidizing highway maintenance.

Niederhauser also thanked voters for their support, and business colleagues and his wife, Melissa, for their patience during long legislative sessions and hours away from work and home.

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Population growth creating apartment affordability crisis in Utah

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s growing economy is great for business, but it’s creating an affordability crisis for renters. The KSL Investigators found as more people move to the region, the demand for apartments has outpaced the supply, pushing up rents faster than wages.

West Valley City resident Janice Thompson has felt the pain.

“It is definitely difficult to find something that I can afford, even when I was looking for this place it was hard,” she said.

For the last three years, Thompson and her cat, Lynx, have called a studio apartment in West Valley home. But at the end of February, they’re moving out.

“When I park at night, I’m scared to walk from my car to my home, and I’ve had some bad experiences here,” Thompson said.

She’s seen fights. Her car window was busted out. A neighbor set the building on fire. West Valley police data shows 237 crimes have been recorded in her neighborhood near 4000 South and Redwood Road over the last month. On top of all that, her rent has shot up from $575 per month to $800 per month.

“There’s like a gap that keeps building and building, and now I’m in debt and I can’t make ends meet,” Thompson said.

Thompson, who earns about $30,000 a year, said she has given up Netflix and internet service as the price of rent has outpaced her pay. Still, she said she’s been forced to use credit cards to make ends meet.

“The cost of living is so high — it’s not just this apartment complex, it’s apartments all over the valley,” she said.

Federal data show she’s right. Rent has risen 20 percent, on average, since 2010. Over the same time period, a two-bedroom apartment in St. George increased 24 percent. The data show two-bedroom prices in Grand County jumped 42 percent as well.

But what does that mean for apartment hunters? The KSL Investigators compared rental prices online for a two-bedroom apartment in a dozen cities across the state.

Not surprising, Park City ($1,567) and Salt Lake ($1,456) are the most expensive. But it’s not much cheaper in Cottonwood Heights ($1,208) or Sandy ($1,008). St. George is $1,166. The most affordable on our list: Cedar City, at $716 a month.

Average monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment, by city:

Cedar City: $716 Ogden: $768 Tooele: $813 Logan: $937 West Valley City: $978 Sandy: $1,008 Magna: $1,046 Bountiful: $1,058 St. George: $1,166 Cottonwood Heights: $1,208 Salt Lake City: $1,456 Park City: $1,567

Salt Lake City recently commissioned a housing study to come up with a five-year housing plan. It found rent rose twice as fast as people’s pay between 2011 and 2014. It also found half of all renters spend more than 30 percent of their monthly take-home pay on rent. That’s a figure the government considers unaffordable. Salt Lake City leaders believe if unchecked, the problem here will only get worse.

“I would say nothing’s really affordable. People are really struggling to figure out how to stay in the city,” said Melissa Jensen, Salt Lake City’s housing director.

The housing study showed a deficit of around 7,500 apartments in Salt Lake. Jensen said the city needs cheaper apartments and more of them.

The shortage of affordable housing squeezes people earning under $20,000 a year the most, Jensen said.

“That means they’re giving up food, they’re not paying their bills, they’re maybe not fixing their car,” she said.

She pointed to the 9th East Lofts, owned by the Salt Lake City Housing Authority, as one solution to the housing crunch. It’s mixed income, meaning 14 apartments charge the market rate, which is $1,450 for a two-bed, two-bath apartment. The other 58 units charge between $303 to $950 a month, based on a person’s take-home pay.

The 500-square-foot apartments come with quartz countertops, stainless steel appliances, and even a marble surround in the bathroom.

Jensen said the city wants to encourage more developers to build affordable housing, but big buildings aren’t the only answer. The city wants more duplexes, rowhouses, and even more mother-in-law apartments. All of those can blend in with the city’s existing neighborhoods. She said the city can’t afford to become unaffordable.

“If everybody moved out of this city who couldn’t afford to live here, imagine the commute coming in, imagine the effect on air quality,” Jensen said.

Thompson was lucky. She found a new place for her stuff and her cat. But for so many others, the cost of housing is growing unaffordable here in Utah.

“We all need a place to live, but we all deserve to live somewhere that’s safe,” Thompson said.

One solution not under consideration is rent control. The Utah Legislature banned rent control back in 1987.


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Overtime costs add up for Salt Lake City homelessness push

City homelessness

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Law enforcement and corrections agencies have paid about $320,000 a month in overtime for a push aimed at tackling problems related to homelessness in Salt Lake City.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that police agencies spent a total of over $600,000 on overtime for Operation Rio Grande from Aug. 14 through Dec. 31 while the Utah Department of Corrections’ costs for participating probation and parole agents amounted to about $800,000.

The operation began with an emphasis at improving public safety and reducing crime. The second phase aims to help people suffering from mental illness and addiction. The third phase focuses on connecting homeless people with jobs and housing.

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Extra Space Storage (EXR) Q4 Earnings: What’s in Store?


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Extra Space Storage Inc. EXR is slated to report fourth-quarter and 2017 results on Feb 20, after the market closes . Both its revenues and funds from operations (FFO) are expected to experience year-over-year growth.

In the last reported quarter, this Salt Lake City, UT-based self-storage real estate investment trust (REIT) delivered a positive surprise of 2.73% in terms of FFO per share. Results reflected growth in property-rental revenues and improvement in same-store NOI. Particularly, higher occupancy and rental rates supported growth.

The company has a decent surprise history. In fact, the company exceeded the Zacks Consensus Estimate in each of the trailing four quarters, with an average beat of 4.46%. This is depicted in the graph below:

Extra Space Storage Inc Price and EPS Surprise

Let’s see how things are shaping up for this announcement.

Earnings Whispers

Our proven model does not conclusively show that Extra Space Storage will likely beat estimates this season. This is because a stock needs to have both – a positive Earnings ESP and a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), 2 (Buy) or at least 3 (Hold) – for this to happen. However, that is not the case here as you will see below.

You can uncover the best stocks to buy or sell before they’re reported with our Earnings ESP Filter .

Zacks ESP: The company has an Earnings ESP of -0.69%.

Zacks Rank: Extra Space Storage’s Zacks Rank #3 increases the predictive power of ESP. However, we also need to have a positive ESP to be confident of an earnings beat.

Factors That Might Impact Q4 Results

Extra Space Storage is a notable name in the self-storage industry. The company offers a wide array of well-located storage units to its customers, including boat storage, recreational vehicle storage and business storage.
In addition, the self-storage industry is anticipated to experience a solid demand, backed by favorable demographic changes and events like marriages, shifting, death and even divorce. As such, its high brand value and robust presence in key cities serve as growth drivers amid healthy demand in the self-storage industry.

The company has also made concerted efforts to grow its business and achieve geographical diversity through accretive acquisitions, mutually beneficial joint-venture partnerships and third-party management services.

Amid these, in the to-be-reported quarter, the company is anticipated to benefit from a steady demand in the self-storage industry and witness growth in same-store revenues and NOI.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate of $252 million for property rental revenue reflects a sequential rise from the prior-quarter figure of $249 million.

Prior to fourth-quarter earnings release, there is a lack of any solid catalyst for raising optimism about the company’s business activities and prospects. As such, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for FFO per share in the soon-to-be-reported quarter has remained unchanged at $1.08, over the past month. However, it indicates a year-over-year rise of 4.9%.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for fourth-quarter revenues is pegged at $283.7 million, indicating a year-over-year rise of 8.7%.

For full-year 2017, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for revenues stands at $1.10 billion, reflecting a year-over-year rise of 10.9%. The consensus estimate for FFO per share is $4.34, reflecting a year-over-year increase of 12.7%. Management expects FFO per share in the range of $4.32-$4.35.

Moreover, shares of Extra Space Storage have lost 5.9% in the past three months, outperforming the 9.6% decline registered by its industry .

Stocks That Warrant a Look

Here are a few stocks in the REIT space that you may want to consider, as our model shows that these have the right combination of elements to report a positive surprise this time around:

Host Hotels & Resorts, Inc. HST , slated to report quarterly numbers on Feb 21, has an Earnings ESP of +0.25% and a Zacks Rank of 3. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here .

Outfront Media Inc. OUT , scheduled to release quarterly numbers on Feb 27, has an Earnings ESP of +0.90% and a Zacks Rank of 3.

Gramercy Property Trust GPT , slated to release fourth-quarter results on Feb 28, has an Earnings ESP of +2.49% and a Zacks Rank of 3.

Note: Anything related to earnings presented in this write-up represent funds from operations (FFO) – a widely used metric to gauge the performance of REITs.

Breaking News: Cryptocurrencies Now Bigger than Visa

The total market cap of all cryptos recently surpassed $700 billion – more than a 3,800% increase in the previous 12 months. They’re now bigger than Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and even Visa! The new asset class may expand even more rapidly in 2018 as new investors continue pouring in and Wall Street becomes increasingly involved.

Zacks has just named 4 companies that enable investors to take advantage of the explosive growth of cryptocurrencies via the stock market.

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Host Hotels & Resorts, Inc. (HST): Free Stock Analysis Report

Extra Space Storage Inc (EXR): Free Stock Analysis Report

Gramercy Property Trust (GPT): Free Stock Analysis Report

OUTFRONT Media Inc. (OUT): Free Stock Analysis Report

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