Two development companies faced off at the Mesquite City Council meeting, Tuesday, Oct. 27 for the right to purchase 104 acres of city-owned property near the proposed I-15 Exit 118 interchange west of town. Only one of them, 333 Eagles Landing, was still standing after three Council people voted in their favor.
Two Councilmen, Geno Withelder and Kraig Hafen, recused themselves from considering the issue while Councilman George Rapson said he didn’t have any pecuniary interest in the outcome. Withelder is a broker with Premier Properties real estate company whose agent Doug Reath is representing Eagles Landing. Rapson explained that he is an independent real estate agent who only “hangs his license in the Premier Properties office.” Hafen said his family has interest in a competing offer at I-15 Exit 120 therefore he would not vote on this issue.
City Liaison Officer Aaron Baker presented a side-by-side comparison of the offers from Eagles Landing and the 118 Group, LLC showing the characteristics of each. Both companies showed intent to build a Travel Center and truck stop at the I-15 strategic location within three years using about 10 acres out of the entire land sale.
The Eagles Landing group includes the former mayor of Beaver, UT, Mark Yardley, while the 118 Group includes local businessmen Joe Bowler and Todd Leavitt.
In order to receive economic development incentives from the city, each company said they intend to hire at least 40 full-time employees. Eagles Landing committed to spending $2 million on capital improvements while the 118 Group planned to spend $1 million. Each incentive offers the winning buyer a 30 percent discount from the purchase price.
The 118 Group offered $1.9 million for the property with $722,000 net cash to the city at the close of the deal. Eagles Landing offered $1.610 million, the appraised price, for the land paying $644,000 in net cash to the city.
Baker explained that the Eagles Landing group would be the actual end user and they had included letters from financial institutions showing they had the backing to do so. He also said the 118 Group had not submitted a Letter of Intent for property usage by the imposed deadline but had given the city a letter of explanation the day before indicating an end-user.
Councilwoman Cindi Delaney said “the Bowlers have invested a lot in Mesquite. But, Eagles Landing has been working for a year on their plan. They are ready to build and move forward. Bowlers may be giving more money up front but it’s the long term aspect that’s important to me.”
Rapson said the “proposal from Eagles Landing is close enough in all respects (to the 118 Group) to say they are pretty even. What distinguishes one over the other in my opinion is the likelihood of having something vertical and operating in the shortest period of time. From what I’ve seen it’s 333 Eagles Landing.”
When Councilman Rich Green questioned the Eagles Landing group about alternate uses for the remaining land, Andy Geller stated that they have a Letter of Intent from a hotel chain to build on part of the property. “We’ll build other things according to the economic demand of the area.”
Rapson also said he thought the 5 percent commission to the real estate agent was too high and should be reduced to 3 percent. He added that “the contract will define most of the details of the sale.” Indeed, the city and the winning buyer will jointly draft a proposed sales contract and agreement which will come back to City Council for approval.