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West Valley City Journal

As West Valley City matures, land to develop dwindles

Aug 07, 2022 08:57PM ● By Darrell Kirby

By Darrell Kirby | [email protected]

When it was incorporated in 1980, West Valley City had plenty of open space among its 72,000 residents.

Today, Utah’s second-most populous city has nearly double the people and quickly disappearing land for housing and other future development.

What used to be farmland and vacant acreage within West Valley City’s 35 square miles has been or is being acquired for the construction of homes, commercial and industrial buildings

That has city officials looking at economic development prospects and strategies for when remaining sizable plots of land are gone.

“We’re running out of land,” said Mark Nord, West Valley City’s economic optimization and Redevelopment Agency director. “All the growth has been going so much to the west, everything is getting gobbled up. There’s really no big tracts of land available in the city anymore.”

The few large properties that are left are in West Valley City’s last frontier—the northwest quadrant along State Route 20. What was largely brush-filled land there is rapidly being covered by distribution and transportation facilities and warehouses, some spanning hundreds of thousands of square feet. That was by design. “Pretty early on, the (city) council said ‘let’s get in and start to attack the industrial market,’” Nord said.

One notable victim of the industrial expansion in the area was Rocky Mountain Raceways, whose lease on its property was not renewed in 2018. The track was then razed to make way for a large distribution center.

A tip of the corridor also falls within the boundaries of the Utah Inland Port, a planned multimodal transportation hub that will help move goods into and out of the area to other parts of the West and beyond. Therefore, more development in the area could occur once construction of the controversial port gets underway.

With not a lot of vacant ground left, what can West Valley City do to attract new and expanding businesses to keep its economy growing? Nord said one strategy is to renovate and repurpose existing properties. “We’re not in a race to just fill them with anything. We want to make sure we do something that’s going to be longstanding and be of real value to the community,” he said.

That’s a wise strategy, according to Alan Rindlisbacher, director of community strategy at the nonprofit Economic Development Corporation of Utah. “It’s a concept of what is the best purpose of a particular property, because once you use it, it’s gone,” he said. He praised West Valley City’s economic development team as being one of the best at making those determinations.

“Economic development and real estate development is almost like a sport,” Rindlisbacher said. “It’s a lot of people working together to see what the final score is at the end of the game.”