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Nov. 29, 2012

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  Economic Review  
Jeff Edwards President's Message
A Hearty Welcome to EDCUtah's Newest Investors

It is my pleasure to welcome the following organizations as new EDCUtah investors:

  • I.J. & Jeanne Wagner Jewish Community Center
  • Proficio Bank
  • Santaquin City
  • Perry & Associates
  • Steven J. Chen, PhD & Associates
  • Siemens Industry, Inc.
  • CenturyLink

We were able to spend some time with representatives from each of these organizations on Nov. 27 as they gathered at our office for a session of our New Investor Orientation. We thank them for attending and for supporting economic development in Utah.

New Investor Orientation at EDCUtah's Office
The team from Siemens Industry, Inc. participates in EDCUtah's New Investor Orientation.

On another subject, EDCUtah's holiday open house is coming up fast. Everything is set for Wed., Dec. 19 from 4-6 p.m. at our office here on 201 South Main St., Suite 2150, in Salt Lake City. I hope you are planning to attend. We would love to greet you personally. Please click here to RSVP.

Further, if you have any questions about the event, please contact Eileen Burt, (801) 323-4249, or email her at eburt@edcutah.org.

Today's Economic Review also includes links to many of the ED-related news stories from the past week. As always, if you have comments, suggestions or topics you'd like to see in the Economic Review, please contact us by clicking the "Comments" link on the bottom of this page. Enjoy!

Jeff Edwards

Jeff Edwards
President and CEO



Feature Story

Redeveloping the Depot District:
A Family-Friendly, Urban Vision Focused
on 'Live, Work, Play'

For about one third of future households – families, baby boomers and the "millennials" -- quality of life implies the ability to live, work and play in convenient, walkable urban centers close to jobs, transportation, shopping, restaurants, arts and entertainment.

In Utah's capital city, developments like The Gateway and City Creek Center offer such opportunities. But in the near future, a new urban center will take shape, developed from the combined vision of organizations like the Redevelopment Agency of Salt Lake City (RDA), Envision Utah and a consortium called Wasatch Choice for 2040.

Where will you find this new urban center? In the historic enclave near downtown Salt Lake City known as the Depot District -- a 10-block area on the east side of the Intermodal Hub that includes vacant land, underused buildings and little street life or commerce. It's an area that was largely hidden from view until recent street viaduct changes brought it into focus.

Depot District Project Area
Developing a vision for the area actually dates back to 1998, when the city created the 1998 Gateway Specific Master Plan and the RDA created the Depot District Project Area. However, last February the vision took a giant step forward when Envision Utah held a series of public workshops to obtain input regarding the future of the District. Envision Utah Planning Director Christie Oostema says the public wanted it all -- an emphasis on living, working and playing in a distinct area of the city.

A future streetcar could connect the Depot District with the rest of downtown
A future streetcar could connect the Depot District with other areas downtown.

"People view the Depot District as connected to, but very distinct from downtown. It is a different, unique spot -- a human scaled, three- to five-story place," she explains. "With the Intermodal Hub at the center of everything, the Depot District could be a great enclave."

The RDA owns 8.65 acres of property adjacent to the Intermodal Hub and recognizes the Depot District as a potential regional destination and critical opportunity for transit-oriented development. As a first step toward development of the properties, the RDA hired Citiventure Associates, LLC, to prepare a land use and marketing strategy for the two blocks east of the Intermodal Hub that includes RDA-owned property. The RDA board adopted the strategy in June 2010. Since then, the RDA hired Design Workshop to carry out predevelopment tasks including the design of infrastructure and public spaces, preparation of properties for redevelopment, creation of design guidelines and creation of a financial strategy for implementing the proposed public improvements.

Development Scenarios
Meanwhile, Envision Utah created multiple future scenarios for the area, as well. One scenario envisions a job-focused district complete with office, R&D, light industrial and tech centers that could support approximately 5,400 jobs and 1,500 households. Another scenario envisions an eclectic place for playing, living and working with a "festival street" between the Intermodal Hub and the historic Rio Grande Depot and other streets that feature arts and entertainment venues. A model for transit-oriented development, that scenario envisions 1,600 households and approximately 2,600 jobs. Meanwhile, a third scenario explores urban living in a family-friendly way -- a neighborhood with a school, a playground and a grocery store. With an affordable housing mix designed with residential over retail, the scenario envisions pocket parks, public places, restaurants and some office mixed with local and regional retail that could support approximately 2,600 households and 2,800 jobs.

Key elements of the RDA's Depot District strategy include:

  • Preservation of historic buildings, like the Rio Grande Depot and the Beehive Brick Building
  • Creation of a Festival Street on 300 South
  • Working with the Downtown Alliance to accommodate a future year-round public market complete with onsite food production
  • Reduced and centralized parking in keeping with transit-oriented design
  • Accommodation for a future streetcar system
  • Enhanced pedestrian connections, including midblock streets and crosswalks

Currently, Envision Utah is refining a soon-to-be released preferred vision for the Depot District that blends all of the scenarios to address the public's desire to live, work and play in this unique area, and the RDA and Envision Utah have worked closely together to coordinate their efforts regarding the Depot District.

"The viaducts kept many people from realizing the space was there. When the viaducts were shortened, people could see blocks and blocks on the west side of Salt Lake City that have an enormous amount of potential," Oostema explains. "Now we see the area as a place where we can maximize the tremendous investment in transportation, while retaining the significance of many historical structures like the old Rio Grande building."

Family Friendly
The underlying assumption, she explains, is to honor the historic character of the area while creating an area that is very urban, but in a family-friendly way. Housing in the Depot District would be a bookend to The Gateway. "We heard a desire to create a space that centers on families living and working in the city. It makes so much sense to create an urban housing/employment center in the Intermodal Hub area. The Utah Transit Authority bus systems, TRAX and Frontrunner all come through that area. It is a central point for the region," Oostema adds.

Redeveloping the Depot District is part of the city's long-term plan to revitalize the area just west of downtown. In step with the project area creation process, Salt Lake City created the Gateway District Land Use & Development Master Plan and the Gateway Specific Plan. Both plans focused on the need to revitalize the west side of downtown and provide better infrastructure, mixed-use developments and retail, as well as preserve historic structures and reclaim open space.

The Gateway is a revitalization success story, and the RDA, Envision Utah and Wasatch Choice for 2040 expect similar success for the Depot District. Indeed, they are optimistic the Depot District will be a key transit-oriented development that helps accommodate the massive population growth expected to take place along the Wasatch Front over the next 30 years, while satisfying public demand to live, work and play in an urban center.

Calendar

Dec. 4
NAIOP "Developer of the Year" Luncheon. Join NAIOP Utah members to hear from Gardner Company's President and CEO Christian Gardner, the Developer of the Year for 2012; 11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. (Thanksgiving Point - Clubhouse Great Room)

Dec. 6
University of Utah Entertainment Arts & Engineering Open House, 3 - 7:00 p.m. (University of Utah) Map to the building.

Dec. 19
SAVE THE DATE! EDCUtah Holiday Open House (EDCUtah Office, 201 South Main Street, Suite 2150, Salt Lake City) 4-6 p.m. Click here to RSVP.

Jan. 10-11, 2013
Governor's Energy Development Summit (Salt Palace Convention Center) An early bird registration discount is offered now until Nov. 30, 2012.

Jan. 16, 2013
Save the Date: "What's Up Down South" 2013 Washington County Economic Summit (Dixie Center, St. George). Registration opens Dec. 3rd, 2012.

Jan. 31, 2012
SAVE THE DATE -- Utah Commercial Real Estate Symposium. Registration will open on about December 10.

Feb. 6, 2013
USU Partners in Business 29th Annual Information Technology Conference (Eccles Conference Center, Utah State University)

April 2-3, 2013
USU Partners in Business 5th Annual Leadership Conference (Eccles Conference Center, Utah State University)

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EDCUtah Open House
EDCUtah Holiday Open House
Wed., Dec. 19 from 4-6 p.m.
201 South Main St., Suite 2150, Salt Lake City
Click here to RSVP.
Questions about the event? Please contact Eileen Burt, (801) 323-4249, or email her at eburt@edcutah.org.

In the News

Utah makes another list of the 'Best Managed' States
A new analysis says Utah is the 4th best managed state in the nation. Wall Street 24/7 takes into account a number of factors including financial health, government services and standard of living.
(Utah Policy)

Data ranks Provo/Orem as fastest growing area in nation
According to data released by Pitney Bowes Software on Tuesday, the Provo-Orem area ranks first on a list of the nation's fastest-growing metropolitan areas and will remain that way for the next five years.
(Daily Herald)

Utah jobless rate down to 5.2 percent in October
Utah's unemployment rate is down to 5.2 percent after state officials report a seasonally adjusted 8,700 jobs added between September and October.
(Businessweek) (Deseret News)

Utah's budget picture getting better and better
Good times are here again for Utah State government. An analysis of yearly tax revenue growth by UtahPolicy, based on figures of the General Fund and the Education Fund provided by legislative budgeters, shows that tax collections are well on the upswing following the Great Recession of 2008 through 2010.
(Utah Policy)

Federal budget cuts have Utah's air base advocates on edge
Advocates for Hill Air Force Base -- Utah's congressional delegation, civic leaders and business executives -- are not operating under an official military state of alert. But it's close.
(Salt Lake Tribune)

USTAR's New Virtual Hair 'Do'
We all understand what it means to have a bad hair day. Thanks to the work of a new researcher at the University of Utah, video game and virtual environment developers may never experience a virtual bad hair day in the future.
(Utah Pulse)

Employer health insurance costs headed up in 2013
Utah companies that provide health insurance benefits to their employees got a break in 2012, but relief from relentless cost increases apparently was only temporary.
(Salt Lake Tribune)

U. of U. graduate wins entrepreneur award
Chelsea Sloan, a recent University of Utah graduate and co-founder of Uptown Cheapskate, was awarded first place in the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards earlier this month in New York City.
(Salt Lake Tribune) (Utah Pulse)

SCORE helps small Utah businesses grow and thrive
With its friendly atmosphere and large array of goods, Blazing Needles in Sugar House is typically filled with customers. And thanks to the help of SCORE, a nonprofit association that pairs small businesses with mentors, the knitting shop's clientele may increase even more.
(Salt Lake Tribune)

Citizens group takes on Sigurd power plant -- again
Opponents of a natural gas plant near the Sevier County town of Sigurd say the Utah Division of Air Quality made mistakes in its decision to grant the Sevier Power Co. a permit to build a 540-megawatt plant.
(Salt Lake Tribune)

New tests coming to Utah schools
The Criterion Referenced Tests most Utah students take each spring will soon be replaced with a new $39 million computer testing system designed to better pinpoint students' needs, state education officials announced Monday.
(Salt Lake Tribune)

Utah votes to save some oil and gas taxes
A ballot recount Monday confirmed that Utah voters narrowly agreed to put about $36 million of oil and gas riches into a permanent fund for safekeeping.
(Businessweek)

Tooele County commissioners questioned after more layoffs
Revenue shortfalls have led to rounds of layoffs for Tooele County employees.
(Deseret News)

Salt Lake County cuts barely dent proposed tax hike
Salt Lake County Council members looked everywhere for ways to cut Mayor Peter Corroon's proposed 2013 budget and its 17.5 percent tax increase for countywide services.
(Salt Lake Tribune)

Utah ranks 32nd in nation in overall high school graduation data
Utah lags behind 31 states in the percentage of students graduating high school and is among the worst in the nation for graduating minority students, according to data released Monday by the U.S. Department of Education.
(Deseret News) (Salt Lake Tribune)

Utah researchers discover possible new treatment for a childhood cancer
Chante Wouden was nearly given a death sentence with the diagnosis of Ewing's sarcoma at age 3.
(Deseret News)

Salt Lake City Council bans demolishing buildings to create parking lots
Read their lips -- no demolitions of downtown buildings to make way for surface parking lots.
(Salt Lake Tribune)

Rep. Rob Bishop, Chamber of Commerce look to energy development in fiscal cliff negotiations
While Congress and the president wrestle over fiscal cliff negotiations, Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce see one area of untapped potential for reducing the deficit, helping the economy and boosting revenues: energy development.
(Deseret News)

County looking at more job cuts, including public safety and roads
At the Summit County Council's request, County Manager Bob Jasper is providing the council with a recommended budget that does not assume the reinstatement of the two tax increases recently halted by successful petitions.
(Park Record)