Article

On the Rise

Station Park Brings Transit-oriented Development to Davis County

By Tom Haraldsen

August 9, 2013


The concept of transit-oriented development—mixed use of residential and commercial areas designed to maximize access to public transportation—is hardly new. It’s been utilized in Europe and Asia for decades, and following World War II, it was almost a prerequisite in several corners of the world for gaining permission to redevelop an area.

The United States was a bit reluctant to embrace transit-oriented development (TOD) until urban sprawl became an issue for most metropolitan areas, and a new ethic favoring fuel efficiency and public transportation took hold over the past 15 years.

Farmington’s Station Park shopping center is an excellent model of transit-oriented development. Located at the intersection of Interstate 15, Highway 89, Legacy Parkway and a FrontRunner commuter rail station, Station Park currently enjoys some of the highest daily traffic counts in Utah.

Station Park’s developer, CenterCal Properties, which also has projects in California and Oregon, was attracted to the site because of that accessibility.

“The site is at the junction of several major freeways and arterial connectors, and it has the added benefit of being served by the FrontRunner commuter rail system,” says Fred Bruning, CEO for CenterCal. “Having developed two very successful projects in the Portland, Oregon area that were commuter-rail served, we have seen great benefits in having this feature as a part of our project.”

Phase One of the project, developed on 160 acres of open land west of the Lagoon amusement park, is a mixture of smaller strip mall shops as well as larger retailers like the recently opened H & M. It is designed to be walkable—easy to navigate for shoppers, diners, or even families or business people out for a stroll. TOD developers generally integrate the use of bicycles into their plans as well. Even the layout of the buildings themselves is unique, tapering a bit as they get further away from the transportation hub.

“From the inception, our goal has been to create the finest retail and commercial environment in the Intermountain states,” Bruning says. “We have felt that if we were able to deliver a project that met this high standard, then our project would not only be successful, but also stand the test of time.”

High-quality Growth

Station Park is getting a lot of attention from other developers and retailers, locally and regionally.

“With the downfall of the economy, this project has been a sleeper,” says Kent Sulser, director of the Davis County community and economic development office. “It’s getting a lot of attention because it’s the perfect gathering place. Developers are selling it on that concept.”

Already, the retail mix includes health and beauty, apparel, computers and electronics, jewelry, home furnishings, sports and fitness, and of course, restaurants. As new phases are developed, the center will include more medical and business offices.

“A lot of those leases are being negotiated right now,” Sulser says. “There’s a lot more ground in and around Station Park to be developed.”

“We’ve been very pleased with the response from our tenants to our project,” Bruning adds. “We are ahead of our leasing goals, and tenants who have opened thus far are pleased with their sales results, even though we are still very much a construction zone through this summer.”

Bruning says the tenant mix will be equal to any center in Salt Lake City in terms of retail stores, with office and hotel components leasing well ahead of expectations.

“One adjunct of this idea is that the high quality of our development would spur additional high-quality growth in the immediate area,” Bruning says. “The success of this idea can be seen by the new residential projects being built in our area, as well as the decision by the University of Utah to consider our location as the locus of its newest medical center. This high-quality growth will lead to enormous tax benefits to the city of Farmington as well as the region, and should be a catalyst for sustainable growth in jobs and the tax base for decades to come.”

As proof of that, just to the north, Park Lane Commons is being developed into a 320-unit housing area. Davis County was able to garner $18.5 million for a redevelopment agency, an investment that went right back into the ground so construction could begin.

“That allowed the road to go through and the backbone of this center to develop,” Sulser says. “We envision that there will be about six office buildings in the area, and the quality of the development is high.”

This might be just the start for CenterCal in Utah as well, as Bruning says his company “would very much like to expand our presence” in the state.

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