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Davis Journal

Centerville considers flex office, multifamily housing for west side

Jul 07, 2023 01:32PM ● By Linda Petersen

A consultant hired by Centerville City has determined that the best use of the west side of the city is for flex office (warehouse/office combinations) or higher-density housing. 

In January the city hired Zions Public Finance Market Analysis to help them in their long-range planning by doing a study of the area which is primarily west of I-15. On June 6 Alex Hall and Susie Becker shared their findings with Mayor Clark Wilkinson and the city council. Over the course of the study, Becker interviewed retail and industrial brokers along with representatives from the existing businesses in the area. 

“We spoke with a number of them across industries and with different firms and really what they found is that [on] the west side it’s really difficult to bring in retail of any kind,” Hall said. “They noted that there really isn’t a lot of space to buffer any use outside of the existing areas there and that’s a really critical component when they’re marketing a site to a potential client.”

If city leaders were determined to draw retail to the area they would have to convince a destination retailer like IKEA or Cabela’s to locate there, he said.  Another use that would make sense is higher density housing – either 20 units per acre or eight units per acre, Hall said.

“We believe there is a lot of good that can come from smart development in the area – flex office or multifamily,” he said. “There is a lot of good to bringing in new development to the area and encouraging, incentivizing that growth and development on the private side, assuming that Centerville continues to grow at the rate that it has been and the rate that people are projecting there is a need for new housing in the city.”

Adding multifamily housing in this area can be good for the city, he said. “It can bring in different housing for people in different stages of their housing life cycle, people who are perhaps younger … but it creates an opportunity to create a sense of community on that west side that hasn't existed if tasteful, well-done multi-family is brought into the area.”

As the consultants interacted with local businesses on the west side they received “glowing reviews” of the city and its staff, Hall said.  Also, businesses there would like to feel a greater sense of community there and for some beautification efforts to take place, he added.

City Councilmember Spencer Summerhays, a realtor who works for the Boyer Company, questioned why the consultants did not speak to large developers. He requested they go back and do so and add their findings as an addendum to their report which they agreed to do. 

“Brokers are backward-looking,” Summerhays said. “They’re looking at actual closed data. Developers are forward-looking, and so if we’re looking at our market analysis for Centerville City, or any other city for that matter, we’re looking to the future and brokers don’t have financial risk when it comes to any of the development that happens. So of course, I might be biased, but to me, really getting the highest and best-use case should be really coming from developers and not brokers because developers are taking huge financial risk.”

Having higher density housing in that area would support efforts to have double track light rail in Centerville in the future, Councilmember George McEwan who favors investing RDA funds in the area said. “This definitely supports the argument that if we do double track transit-oriented development on that side with inline retail, it makes perfect sense for a walkable community,” he said.

The Utah Department of Transportation is in the planning stages of developing at least nine new segments of double track along the 83-mile FrontRunner commuter rail system at an estimated cost of nearly $1 billion, according to Railway News.  

This type of housing could position Centerville as an attractive location for a future station, McEwan said. “What I’ve learned over the years is once you invest a little bit even in one property it kind of spreads. It’s contagious; two or three other properties will start investing. So, I do feel there’s a need for us to start investing on that west side, whether it’s lighting, beautification, trees or looking at the roads.”