March 13, 2013

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Davis and Weber Counties


Davis and Weber Counties

March 13, 2013

McCALL: Hill Air Force Base has never been in as good a position as it is right now. With regard to software development alone, there really is room for about 200 percent growth. These are high-paying jobs.

Hill has been announced as the base for the F-35s. For this order alone, among the three depots we have produced 38 more planes than in this quarter of last year, which is huge when you’re talking about aircraft coming in. Couple that with the Utah training range and we are in a very, very strong position.

Unfortunately, we are handicapped by national circumstances, and there are three things that I think we need to be concerned about. First of all, we have not had a defense budget for three years. This year the financing is based on a continuing resolution that set the parameters for 2012. That means we have already stepped into 2013 $300 billion short. That alone could cause layoffs or other critical repercussions.

But now we’re moving into sequestration, so not only are we $300 billion down, now we’re approaching massive, massive cuts in the defense department. This is significant. You’re going to see furloughs. We don’t know the extent—how far and how deep those cuts are going to come—but they are going to take place at Hill. You’re going to see platforms and programs reviewed because there’s simply no money anymore.

The big question mark within the Air Force is certainly the F-35s. Are we going to be able to finance that? That’s really a lot of the future for Hill.

So I think sequestration is going to be devastating, and it appears that we’re going to go that way. Flying hours will be cut. All of the demonstrations teams are already going to be cut. There won’t be any more air shows. The biggest consequence to Hill Air Force Base will be layoffs.

Let’s move on to economic development on the retail side.

CALDWELL: A week and a half ago we finally had somebody buy our Fred Meyer building on 12th and Wall. It’s been vacant for six-and-a-half years and we gave 30 different site visits to prospective buyers for that. A group came from Idaho and paid cash for it. They’re going to split that up, and we think it will be the start of a new retail corridor on 12th in our downtown.

But when you look at property tax, it isn’t moving very quick. So sales tax is our lifeblood and the place where we can move the meter the most, so we’ve been very focused on that. We’ve seen some good, positive direction for retail, really just in the last year.

Big boxes are not going to be what drives sales tax revenue. We’re all saturated with big boxes, and we get the feeling that people’s appetite has left for big-box retail. So we’ve got some opportunities in Ogden with smaller retailers, making them more boutique and unique, and Ogden has been known for that. We’ve got our big-box cornerstones and we’re going to in-fill with more unique and personal retail.

How is retail in Davis County looking?

J. SMITH: The Station Park project in Farmington has far exceeded anybody’s expectations in terms of how quickly it’s come up to speed. When I look at Station Park, the pessimistic banker in me says, “I’m nervous. They’re going to build on a bet that it’s going to come.” You know what? The traffic has been there. Everyone there has been happy with their success and the sales that they’ve generated. So Station Park has been a wonderful addition to Davis County, smack in the middle of the county, and everything from entertainment to food to all of the retail—every aspect of it.

And  don’t forget the Layton Mall. It has seen some tremendous growth, some new tenants. The restaurants around the outside have started to generate some very positive changes as well.

Mayor Curtis, have you seen any pull-away because retail growth in the southern part of the county?

CURTIS: I haven’t seen any pull-away. We’re very fortunate in Layton to have a strong commercial base that likes where they are. And because of that, we’re also seeing a lot of inquiry coming in. We would have been elated to have experienced the West Lake Village, but that was defeated on a referendum vote in the last election, and so we’ll go from there to try to develop a little more commercial on the west side. That needs to happen because of the gridlock that occurs east of the freeway.

DOWNS: That brings up a couple of points. One, we found that as the retail comes in, so does professional—surrounding some of those hubs you’ll find class A office space. There’s a lot of interest and we’re seeing a lot of growth there.

But the mayor touched upon another elephant in the room, and that’s transportation. Right now Farmington Station’s a little bit nervous about what will happen with the west Davis corridor. Will they have a prime exit or will people have to go round-about it? Will that affect what they’re trying to do? It certainly will. We’re concerned about the east-west corridors as well as the north-south corridors.

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