Industrial development changing the look of northwestern West Valley City
Oct 23, 2019 02:45PM
By Darrell Kirby
Enlinx, a distribution and fulfillment center for a number of companies, occupies one of the large buildings in West Valley City's burgeoning northwest industrial area. (Darrell Kirby/City Journals)
By Darrell Kirby | [email protected]
West Valley City has undergone a major transformation in recent years with acres of vacant land being covered with residential, commercial and industrial development.
In few places is that growth more pronounced than along a stretch of frontage road just south of State Route 201 between 7200 West and a little east of 5600 West.
What were once empty fields except for a few scattered structures and outbuildings is now the heart of an industrial zone that is helping to reshape the northwest section of West Valley City and its economic profile.
The area is zoned for light industry and has spawned mostly distribution centers where goods are shipped to and from destinations in the Intermountain Region and West Coast.
"A lot of that is due primarily to e-commerce-based businesses," said Mark Nord, West Valley City's economic development director. "Because of this online demand for goods, massive wholesalers and resalers are all looking for distribution space."
And they are snapping up any space available for lease. Nord estimates that the occupancy rate is in the low 90% range right now. “It just goes so quickly. It’s a really hot market. We don’t have a single building above 60,000 square feet available right now. That sounds big, but in that world, that’s nothing.”
Developers ARA and Hines, among others, are building as fast as they can to satisfy the need. At build out, or close to it, there will be about 4 million square feet of industrial space among three projects in West Valley's northwest quadrant. That is the equivalent of about 20 stores the size of Costco in West Valley City. A big chunk of that will be an 850,000-square-foot structure on the site of the old Rocky Mountain Raceways. The demolition of the race track is underway and is expected to gain speed early next year to make way for construction immediately afterward.
What makes that area of West Valley city so attractive? It's the old real estate axiom "location, location, location." "We are so connected to the major arteries in the Intermountain states," Nord said.
Just outside the front doors of many of the industrial buildings is S.R. 201. That connects one direction or the other to Interstates 15 and 80. Ten minutes away is Salt Lake City International Airport for shipping by air, not to mention nearby railroads for transport by train.
For many companies, location, location, location translates to cost, cost, cost. “The further away you are from those arteries, the more it costs distributors to get those goods to those major highways on the way to their destinations," Nord pointed out.
One of the larger buildings in the industrial corridor is occupied by Enlinx, a logistics and fulfillment company employing nearly 150 regular full-time people and about to add a similar number of part-time workers for the upcoming holiday season. "Geographically, it makes a lot of sense" for Enlinx to be located where it is," said vice president of marketing, Lee Payne, citing access to transportation networks. The facility is also a plus. "It's definitely a modern building, there's no doubt about that," he added.
Nord says the city is trying to make the industrial zone attractive and not, well, industrial looking. “Whatever they (developers) bring in, we always ask them to do a little bit more," he said.
A section of the fronts of the structures are glass to create the look of an office park and help avoid the appearance of bland concrete buildings. “If we’re going to change the way people view West Valley City, these are the types of things we need to be on top of,” Nord said.
What happens when there is no more land to build on in the northwest industrial area, of corner of which is within the boundaries of the controversial planned Utah Inland Port?
Nord says older, existing buildings in other parts of West Valley City could likely be targeted for repurposing and renovation into industrial facilities.