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Summit/Wasatch Economic Outlook
Easy as 1, 2, 3…
Death and Taxes
How will a water shortage impact your business?
ANKER: Last year, 2012, started out a little lackluster, a little slower. But by the fourth quarter, and especially the first quarter of 2013, interest picked up quite a bit. A lot of larger sales, and a lot of these still have some distress on them. We’re seeing more activity in the lease market, both retail and office, as well as investment sales. We’re starting to see properties that aren’t in any state of distress start to compete with those remaining few projects that have had some distress on them.
The New Park just sold, Kimball Plaza just sold, Summit Center will probably sell before the end of the year. So a lot of these projects that have been tough over the last few years are now working their way through the market.
Who’s leasing space now? Are we getting businesses up here?
ANKER: The push lately is retailers, which we haven’t seen for years because retailers have just not been expanding. But we are seeing a lot of retailers right now, especially in the Snyderville Basin where there’s a lot of product available. And even looking at new build-to-suits, it looks like the entire Village at Kimball Junction is under construction. It will continue to look like that for a while as they do the new roundabout in front of Whole Foods. But they’ll be doing new buildings this year, not just Mountain America but there’s new pads approved out in front of Smith’s.
Office expansion is still pretty much internal to our market. We’re not seeing as much expansion from out of state. We’re still pulling from Salt Lake County, and of course the tough thing there is just finding housing for the workforce. If your average home in Park City is what, $700,000, it’s tough to bring your whole company here.
Let’s switch over to state parks, because that’s another big part of our recreational amenity base. How are your budgets?
LOYOLA: We have four parks in this area. We have Rockport in Summit County, and then Jordanelle, Deer Creek and Wasatch. All of those parks are doing very well. All three of them saw increases in visitation this year, with the exception of Wasatch, and I’m not really sure why they’re down.
We are really trying to focus on bringing in new visitors, and Jordanelle State Park is really doing a lot of work with local businesses, trying to increase the number of special-use permits and bringing in new business to her park. We also just landed an XTERRA-branded trail race on that perimeter.
STARK: The three state parks in the Heber Valley are some of our greatest partners. Our office has gotten co-op funds from the Utah Office of Tourism, and then we’ve partnered with the state parks so that we can do direct mailers and golf packages to get people from out of state to come to the valley and stay in our hotels and spend their money, golf our courses. So it’s a tremendous partnership and one of our greatest assets.
How about the real estate end of the market? Is that picking up again?
STARK: In terms of commercial activity, we’ve seen a lot of organic growth. Businesses that have a 2,000- to 3,000-square-foot facility, they’re now looking for the 10,000- to 15,000-square-foot facility. Out by our airport, that’s a prime spot where recently we’ve had a lot of interest. Heber City owns 38 acres out there, and we’re working with this California developer that wants to do some manufacturing space, create some aviation-related jobs.
Anita, what are you seeing over in Summit County?
LEWIS: As part of its strategic plan, the county council listed economic diversity as one of its top goals for the next two years. The council is really interested in finding what the Park City-Snyderville area would like to see as far as growth, if any. Then we have the eastern side of the county, who definitely wants to see some economic development, some growth. So we want to focus on that this year. We want to hold some more community meetings, some committee meetings, so we can find out, what is it we want? What do we want to bring? We want to carefully move forward and plan out into the future.
Is there enough cooperative effort between Wasatch, Summit and Park City?
WEIDENHAMER: The opportunities in Park City are different from the opportunities in the Basin, different from the other side of the county and different from Wasatch County. But they can all complement and work together for a regional economy.
We’re very resort-based, destination-based here, but I think that Summit County can pick up very different ends of that and provide different things. Similar but different. Cooperation can always be improved.
What do you think our niche would be in the Park City area?