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Heber asks Wasatch County, school district to invest millions in downtown revitalization

Three districts of downtown Heber City were the topics of discussion at steering meetings Wednesday.
Heber City
Heber City plans to invest millions in revitalizing downtown, including Main Street and an arts and recreation district.

Heber has asked local entities to support its community reinvestment area. Wasatch County is deciding whether it will invest millions to help.  

The Heber City Council pitched its plan for the CRA to the Wasatch County Council earlier this month. It’s now asking county leaders to invest about $4 million in a tax increment funding plan.

Essentially, Heber leaders are asking other local entities to forgo a share of their property taxes for the next 20 years so that money can be invested in revitalizing the downtown area. In return, Heber plans to make the area more profitable, generating higher revenue it says will eventually benefit those investors.

Heber City manager Matt Brower said having the support of the county and the school district is imperative for the project’s success.

“It’s critical that we get interlocal agreements with both the school board and the county council in order to generate the increment needed to make the investment we hope to achieve downtown,” he said.

Heber plans to use the funds to pay for new parking, pedestrian improvements and more.

Wasatch County manager Dustin Grabau said after hearing the city’s request March 6, the county council is still discussing whether to move forward. He said county leaders are more comfortable with the proposal now that they have specifics on the plan.

“It would be potentially either 20 years or when we reach that dollar amount limit, so that the council has a little bit more confidence what we would be contributing,” he said.

Both managers stressed expanding parking in downtown Heber is a priority. The city hopes to build about 130 spaces in surface parking, with the potential to plan for a garage if demand warrants.

“Right now, one of the biggest hindrances to private investment is meeting the city’s parking requirements,” Brower said.

Grabau agreed if parking is taken care of, it would incentivize redevelopment.

As negotiations continue, some members of the CRA board say they feel frustrated by what they describe as a lack of feedback from the county.

“I just saw a lot of pushback from the county,” Councilmember Yvonne Barney said. “I think they need to spell it out for us, what their concerns really are... Just getting those blank faces and seeing the blank looks, that was concerning for me.”

She said that would enable them to respond to any questions or worries they have about the plan.

The Wasatch County Council has yet to announce its decision about investing in the CRA. As a next step, Brower will share a draft interlocal agreement with the county so negotiations can continue.

Meanwhile, Heber leaders will ask the Wasatch County School District for its support in late April. They’re asking the district to invest about $16 million in the plan.

In total, the CRA plan requires more than $22 million in investments.