City Council approves direct sale of Exit 118 land

Without dissension, the Mesquite City Council approved a measure at its Oct. 13 meeting to sell 104 acres of city-owned land using a direct sale process rather than sending it to auction. The land is located at the new I-15 Exit 118 interchange scheduled for completion in June 2016.

All four councilors voting on the issue cited the benefits of selling the land directly to a developer. Saying the city could possibly get more money for the land through an auction, Councilman Rich Green echoed the others saying “I’m all about the jobs. It’s about the payrolls and the dollars that will multiply.”

Councilman Kraig Hafen recused himself from the agenda item saying he had interest in another property that was in competition with potential development at I-15 Exit 118.

Aaron Baker, City Economic Development officer, explained to the Council that an auction process came with very little city control over use of the land. The winning bidder could also sit on the land for an extended time or flip it to a new buyer realizing an immediate profit.

With a direct sale to an interested party, the city can place controls on how the land is used and dictate a timeline for developing the property.

Councilwoman Cindi Delaney remarked that she was pleased with the Economic Development Incentives Committee who provided recommendations on how to structure incentives for developers to build on the land in a timely fashion. “We’re looking at the long-term benefits to Mesquite,” she said.

“I’m in favor of a direct sale,” Councilman Geno Withelder said by telephone. “Let’s get moving. Let’s quit talking.”

Prior to the Council’s discussion, they heard plans for a Travel Center (TC) from 333 Eagles Landing, LLC, who wants to purchase the city’s land. A competing group, Mesquite Exit 118 Group, LLC, also expressed interest in the property although their plans are much less developed.

After voting 4-0 to approve a direct sale process for the Exit 118 land, the Council moved on to deciding which of the two development groups they would sell to.

The land is divided into two parcels: 5.71 acres lays on one side of the road with the remaining 98.24 acres on the other side. An appraisal commissioned by the City pegs the value of the combined parcels at $1.535 million. A second appraisal, paid for by Eagles Landing comes in at $1.610 million.

Slade Smith, left and Andy Geller, both of 333 Eagles Landing Group presented their plans to the Mesquite City Council for developing land at I-15 Exit 118 they want to purchase from the city for a Travel Center. Photo by Barbara Ellestad.

Slade Smith, left and Andy Geller, both of 333 Eagles Landing Group presented their plans to the Mesquite City Council for developing land at I-15 Exit 118 they want to purchase from the city for a Travel Center. Photo by Barbara Ellestad.

“We intend to build a facility that soccer moms and kids won’t be afraid to use,” Andy Geller, managing partner of 333 Eagles Landing, told the Council about his group’s plans to build a Travel Center with a convenience store, restaurants, and truck traffic facilities in the back. “We have a clean and polished look that’s architecturally beautiful,” he said as he flipped through a slide presentation showing the plans.

Eagles Landing has offered $1,572,500 for the land. They will pay $630,200 cash up front. They also promise to invest at least two million dollars in capital improvements and provide a minimum of 40 jobs within three years. According to the city’s economic development matrix, each of those incentives will garner separate 30 percent reductions in the land’s purchase price.

The Exit 118 group will pay $1.8 million for the acreage with one million dollars in cash up front. They are requesting the same incentive reductions for improvements and the number of jobs but as a form of rebate on the up-front cash.

Both offers give the city a first deed of trust on part of the land should the buyer default on the purchase. The city would get 73 acres back from Eagles Landing and 98 acres back from the Exit 118 group.

“Both offers are very similar,” Councilman George Rapson said, concluding the end difference in the two offers was $136,000 after incentives. “The economics are not incredibly different. The differences are principally in the security of the property and how the refunding works. But one of these groups has a history of building and operating truck stops and hotels,” referring to Eagles Landing.

“The Exit 118 group is relying on selling off parcels to others. The likelihood of quickly getting something going vertical and employing people is more inclined to happen with 333 Eagles Landing,” he added.

Rapson said he was ready to make a decision that night.

“This is a wonderful position to be in,” Delaney remarked about the two competing offers. “However, I would like to see both proposals listed side-by-side so we can compare them better.” She proposed that Baker create a presentation for the next Council meeting rather than decide on the issue immediately.

Withelder and Green voted with Delaney to bring the issue back in two weeks. Rapson voted against the measure.

Once the Council decides to whom they will sell the land, a contract and purchase agreement will be hammered out and brought back for a vote.


  1. Vickie Jensen says:

    The “exit 118 group” is Kraig Hafen and his family. They are the least qualified, have the worst business plan and any jobs will go to only good old boys. Hafen intends to use Flying J which has been repeatedly sued recently over this exact kind of stupid business deal putting stinky, belching semi-trucks right where people need to get home to Sunset Greens or get to the doctor. Hafen is being very dishonest in his activity on exit 118.

    • Vickie Jensen says:

      Sorry, I mispoke. I meant to say the “exit 120 group” is Kraig Hafen.

      The legitimate group at exit 118 is the professionals from Eagles Landing.

      Please accept my apology. I was referring to Hafen and exit 120.

      • Barbara Ellestad, Editor, MLN says:

        Ms. Jensen,

        You are incorrect on several counts. First, the Mesquite Exit 118 Group, LLC includes Todd Leavitt, Stephen Wade, and Tony Burns. They have submitted a Letter of Intent to purchase the city-owned land at Exit 118. The 333 Eagles Landing, LLC, group has also submitted a Letter of Intent to purchase the land at Exit 118.

        Kraig Hafen’s family owns the land outright at Exit 120. While it’s true that his family, not Kraig, has been in talks with Pilot Flying J corporate officials about a Travel Center at Exit 120, technically it is not part of this issue. A Request for Zoning Variance for the Exit 120 TC is tentatively scheduled for the Nov. 10 City Council meeting.

        Thank you for your interest,
        Barbara Ellestad, Editor, MLN

  2. Martin Locke says:

    Kraig Hafen is, once again, trying to scam the system despite the fact citizens of this community said they want the truck stop at exit 118 NOT where it will congest traffic and endanger lives just so Hafen can make some money.

  3. I am pretty sure Mr Hafen and his family would like to make some money. He also has family that lives in Sunset Greens. His family has also been in this Valley a lot longer than most. I do not believe he would intentionally do anything to hurt this community or make it look bad.

  4. Hafen- move back to slc or st george and take rapson with you.
    Yhe 3 demons of deceptin- rapson,hafen and witholder are in it only to move there old boy network forward and line there pockets.
    Premier realty does all the dirty work for these 2 clowns.
    Premier should be shut down just by there dump fiasco ,building homes on a landfill.

  5. Michael Creston says:

    Thanks to the editor for the correction. However, a truck stop at exit 120 would be a nightmare. Hafen is damaging the image of this community by proposing a truck stop at that intersection. Doesn’t he know there is one only a block away? I would say a request for a zoning variance is a sure sign Hafen cares more for his pocketbook than for Mesquite. Flying J is not a company with a stellar record either, the whole thing proposed by Hafen is a mess. Now he wants senior citizens living a Sunset Greens to drive through a truck stop and have their health affected by diesel fumes. Not exactly caring for this community. Let the city’s plan of expanding to exit 118 proceed and keep the greed and backstabbing out of Mesquite politics.

  6. Art Hansen says:

    Hey Hafen, give it up. The votes are not there for a variance, the people are dead set against it, it’s a stupid idea and you are making yourself look more and more like Bundy and garbage dump Hardy.

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