March 13, 2013

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Davis and Weber Counties

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Davis and Weber Counties

March 13, 2013

J. SMITH: We have to rethink the way we do transportation. We need to rethink the concept that it’s all about building new roads. It has to include transit. It has to include transit-oriented development, where we change the way we expand into the future.

BOUWHUIS: In Weber and Davis counties, we have an interesting issue that’s never quite been resolved. We spent a lot of money getting I-15 renovated for the Olympics, and then we turned around a few years later and took care of Utah County. I-15 running through Davis County into Weber County has never been fully renovated. We’ve done piecemeal kinds of things. Band-Aids.

What you see on Antelope and West Hill Field Road around Christmastime is a nightmare. It’s a failing road. And we’ve been fortunate enough to have 100 percent occupancy in the Layton Hills Mall. But unless we fix those two interchanges in our city, we’re going to see commerce start to die off because people won’t battle the roads to get to the shopping center.

WOOD: All that goes back to the comment I made about companies relocating from outside of Davis and Weber back into the area. Tens of thousands of people, literally, are leaving the county. And that goes back to transportation. One way to solve that transportation problem is to bring those jobs here so we don’t have as much congestion on I-15.

CALDWELL: Ogden’s in a unique position. We don’t have a lot of open space that’s easily developed. Farmington Station and a lot of what’s happened in Layton—you guys had dirt to start with. Ogden City was built out in 1950. We had a great boom as we went through the railroad years, and we’ve had decades of decline as the railroad left and we tried to figure out what to do.

In this economy, where people can choose where they live, where they work and everything else, quality of life is a huge piece of their consideration. We can’t afford anymore to be a car-based society. So this active transportation piece is part of the quality of life. People don’t like having to spend hours on the freeway driving to Salt Lake.

We’ll be developing 400 units in our core downtown. It will be really easy to get around on those bike lanes that we’ve built, to get into some of these smaller stores and park your bike in the garage. There’s a huge demand for that type of active transportation.

SULSER: Over the last few years we’ve assembled 13 sites within our Davis County area, which encompass about 3,000 acres. That acreage has been rezoned, and in many cases planned, but the entitlement work’s been done on those 13 sites. And in six cases we’ve put an overlay of EDTIF incentives in place so they can be used for infrastructure needs to encourage development. Five of those locations are being built out with significant projects right now, and it’s because of having the available land sites overlaid with incentives.

SULSER: There was a major project created in Syracuse City to deal with U.S. Cold Storage. They are going to be creating a 200,000-square-foot facility, investing $32 million back into our economy, growing about 50 jobs. And that created the opportunity to develop a Syracuse business park. There’s about 150 acres there. It can grow into another large section, given we have transportation access in the future.

How has the tourism sector fared through the economic recovery?

TOLIVER: From Weber County’s perspective, we continue to see a lot of growth in the tourism industry. We finished off 2012 about 9 percent up in transient room taxes over 2011. So even as we face some of these challenges with the government cuts and the impact that will have on our convention business—because of Hill and IRS and all of the other folks we rely on for room nights and meetings and conventions space—we look forward to seeing what happens and trying to quell some of that with some of the other new business we can bring in.

CALDWELL: Commercial air service to Ogden was a huge win for our tourism component as well. They fly to Mesa, and they’ve run at 94 percent occupancy since we opened in September. We’ve done some studies that show we can accommodate up to 20 flights a week as well, so they’ll open service to Las Vegas, Anaheim and Oakland in the next year, we hope. We’re pushing and driving that. That’s almost 3,000 people a week that will be coming into our community that we didn’t otherwise have.

RIDDLE: Davis County is doing well in tourism. It represents over 12,000 jobs within our county—and growing—in accommodations and food service with almost 8,000 of those jobs in that sector alone.

We’ve had new growth in hotels. We opened a new hotel last year, Home2 Suites, the second one in the country. This year we opened a Best Western Layton Park Hotel with another 84 rooms, and we have another hotel under construction in Farmington, a Hampton Inn that we expect will open up in the early summer.

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