Tooele City Mayor Patrick Dunlavy has big plans for economic development, starting with the announcement of a $32 million retail complex early next month.
The 33-acre retail, office and housing development, which will be located on the southwest corner of Main Street and 1000 North, has been five years in the making, according to Dunlavy. The big-box retailers anchoring the project will be announced at a Dec. 5 Tooele City Council meeting.
“It will be the biggest retail project ever in Tooele City or Tooele County,” said Dunlavy. “We have worked to develop this project for years. Our time spent at the International Council of Shopping Centers conference in Las Vegas is now coming to fruition. We’ve had a specific project we’ve wanted to do in a specific location, and all of those things have finally worked out. Construction will start in 2013.”
Ball Ventures, a real estate investment, lending and development company based in Idaho Falls, Idaho, is partnering with South Jordan-based developer Eagle Pointe to develop the property. Tooele City economic development consultant Randy Sant said the two companies have worked together before, and are currently working on the Lehi Pointe development in Lehi — an 82-acre development with retail and office space, a hotel, movie theaters and residential housing units.
“Ball Ventures will be the main developers,” Sant said. “Eagle Pointe will be involved, but not as the main developer. This project will include 150,000 to 210,000 square feet of commercial space, a private investment of about $32 million and new sales tax to the city of between $500,000 and $650,000 thousand a year.”
The new center is one of only a few projects Tooele City officials are focusing on as they refine their economic development strategy in the year ahead.
“We’re going to get a lot more focused on certain projects,” said Sant. “We’ve done a shotgun approach in the past and now we’re going to focus on a few things that will make us profitable and not worry about other stuff so much. That’s the philosophy for 2013.”
The Tooele Research Park, located next to Utah State University Tooele, will be one area of focus.
“The research park is a new thing,” Dunlavy said. “It’s a different direction than we’ve gone in before. We’ve gone away from recruiting just anyone who will come in. We want to gear who comes in more toward what we need at the research park and in other areas.”
Dunlavy said currently the park is in good condition because the grounds have been cleaned up and are ready for infrastructure. Next year, extending the road in front of the Community Learning Center toward the research park and putting in water and sewer to open up the property will be major goals.
“Our intent is to develop as much of our research park this next year as we can,” Dunlavy said. “We’ll at least get it started.”
Dunlavy said the city has had meetings with many technology-focused companies interested in relocating to the park, but no contracts have been signed yet.
Air Products and Chemicals, a manufacturer of commercial gas, chemical, and health care products based in Allentown, Pa., is the most recent major business Tooele City has landed. The Fortune 500 company announced it would be opening a facility in the Utah Industrial Depot in April 2011. The company will use high-tech manufacturing processes to produce ceramic modules used in the production of oxygen in the former Conestoga Wood Specialties building. In 2011, Sant said the company was slated to begin production by the end of 2012. However, due to additional renovations, the company is now set to begin production next spring.
“They’re renovating the facility right now and are putting in their air system,” Sant said. “They’re still anticipating hiring in January with operations beginning in April 2013. Everything is online for them to be up and running.”
In addition, the current owners of the UID, UID Associates, are in the process of selling the depot. Sant said because the deal hasn’t been finalized, he can’t say who the depot will be sold to, but he expects the ownership change will give the city more opportunities to develop the rest of the depot. The deal should be finalized around the first of the year, Sant said.
“We’re going to have to see what the new owners’ philosophy is,” Dunlavy said. “It will all depend on the way they market the facility and how much they invest in it. It’s been problematic over the last few years, mainly because of the economy, to increase business. This company will hopefully work closely to recruit businesses that will fit in with what the depot is about.”
Sant said because the UID only has about 300 undeveloped acres left, the city will also start to look for another area where industrial companies can locate.
“We’ve got to look at other property in the community to see if there’s another potential site in Tooele City,” Sant said. “We’re looking at 1000 North because it has a lot of vacant property along it, and we’re looking next to the Tooele Army Depot. The city owns about 300 acres there, so that might be another opportunity for another industrial park. Next year we are going to spend time working on that.”
Sant said overall the city will be working on bringing in businesses that the community wants and needs for growth.
“We’re trying to bring in the businesses that people leave the city for,” Sant said. “We know what our citizens want and we’re trying to focus on bringing new places in so they don’t have to go outside the community.”