Big Land | Urban Living

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Big Land

Land is one of the most valuable commodities on our planet.

Posted By on July 6, 2016, 4:00 AM

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"Oh, give me land, lots of land under starry skies above ..." as the song goes. Land is one of the most valuable commodities on our planet. Land that can be developed near water and near cities is even more valuable. One of the highest land sales in Utah happened in 2015—almost 500,000 acres around the Cove Fort area of Millard County changed hands. Two buyers threw down $57 million for mostly agricultural acreage and nearby grazing allotments on state trust and public lands near Fishlake. This giant piece of local earth is not going to be developed by the end of this century as Utah's newest silicone benches, but kept for water rights and deer and elk hunting alongside cattle grazing.

Now, in 2016, the most valuable piece of real estate in Utah is changing hands. Rio Tinto Kennecott (the group that owns the copper and gold mine on the west side of the Salt Lake Valley) has just penciled out a deal to sell all of Daybreak to Varde Partners for an unclosed amount. If you haven't ventured way west for a while, you might want to extend your TRAX ride out to Daybreak. Once you're there, you will find over 500 different homes, condos and townhomes done in lovely shades of stucco, a commercial district named "SoDa Row," a manmade lake known as Oquirrh and thousands of potential residential and commercial sites ready to be developed. The city of Daybreak was created by the mining company which saw some time ago that the ore in one of the world's largest open-pit copper mines would eventually peter out and there was a great value to the surrounding land that the company owned.

The British/Aussie global corporation of Rio Tinto shook the market in 2015 by announcing a new cost-cutting/savings plan of $1 billion, which was $250 million more than a previous goal. This was due to tough mining/market conditions around the world affecting profits. It makes complete sense that in an industry so sensitive to metals demands from places like China to cut costs and sell off assets to pay bills and recapitalize. Hopefully the new owners of Daybreak will continue a vision of greener building and environmental planning for Salt Lake's west side in the previously agreed-upon master plan. I remember a presentation years ago from Rio Tinto reps in which they said that if they did develop all the Kennecott land along the west hills and below the mine, they'd have to put in 90 schools just to support the population boom they'd create. Damn, Daniel!

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