EDCUtah Quarterly Investor Update: Lara Fritts shares more about the Northwest Quadrant
EDCUtah recently held a Quarterly Investor Update meeting to share with its members some recent economic development activity happening in Utah. It was a pleasure to have Lara Fritts, director of economic development at Salt Lake City, address the group and discuss plans to develop the Northwest Quadrant of Salt Lake City.
Fritts was tasked with this project shortly after accepting her new role nearly nine months ago. Since then the Northwest Quadrant has attracted the attention of business leaders, developers, government officials, and others as the land presents a unique opportunity to the city and state.
“This is a once in a generation opportunity for us to plan the Northwest Quadrant right,” said Fritts. Fritts and her redevelopment team have spent significant time investigating the best approach to ensure this land is used and planned for appropriately. This began with the questions: “What is it that we want to truly implement?” and “How can we make this impactful for future generations?” The team reviewed 35 studies of similar developable land across the country and also conducted a stakeholder outreach to garner feedback from others. Over 100 people participated in the planning process from city staff to engineers. 2,600 acres were identified as ideal building land with an additional portion being allocated for the preservation of the area’s natural ecosystem, including a bald eagle nesting preserve and vast wetlands. The area also has some land that they are unable to develop due to high liquefaction soil, private canals, and proximity to the Salt Lake City International Airport runways.
With 8,000 total acres, Salt Lake City plans to ensure sustainability and responsibility. The development of the area would also include remediating the 770-acre abandoned landfill. The Northwest Quadrant is a valuable asset due to its potential for global connectivity with easy access to rail and air transportation, as well as established shipping routes. In particular, Salt Lake City and other leaders are investigating the feasibility of developing the area into an “inland port” and “mega site” with 600 and 400 acres dedicated respectively.
Two roads are currently under construction at the site under state funding as part of the beginning infrastructure phase. Fritts’ team will continue the conversation about how to remediate the landfill and what direction they’re headed in terms of constructing an inland port. In “Phase 2” of these discussions, the team considered land use alternatives and prepared economic modeling for the site. Now, as they move into “Phase 3” the major question they are asking is: “How are we going to get capital to stack this?”
The area is primarily controlled by three landowners and Fritts’ team is engaging them in the conversation. They were able to talk about a Community Development Area (CDA) with the city council as they considered the project area. They have now adopted a master plan for rezoning the area. There is no plan for residential units in the area, but it is open for light industrial manufacturing and distribution. The rezoning will require working with public utilities to ensure all safety precautions are met.
Phase 3 began April 3rd and is scheduled to be completed in July. EDCUtah looks forward to collaborating with Lara Fritts and her team at Salt Lake City as they continue the work on this once in a generation development.