HILL AIR FORCE BASE -- An agreement has been reached with Falcon Hill's first tenant, which means construction on the project is finally set to begin.
A deal between private developer Sunset Ridge Development Partners LLC and Northrop Grumman was signed Thursday and clears the way for construction to begin on the largest enhanced-use lease project in the history of the Air Force.
A groundbreaking ceremony for the project took place at Hill in October 2008, but since then, virtually no construction has taken place.
The signing of anchor tenant Northrop Grumman officially marks the beginning of the project, officials say.
"Before, we had promises and indications," said Sen. Stuart Adams, R-Utah. "But now we have signed leases."
The project encompasses 550 acres on the base and is a $1.5 billion public-private venture of the state, Hill and Woodbury Corporation.
Terms of the partnership call for Sunset Ridge to finance, build and maintain 8 million square feet of office space and supporting restaurants and hotels on 550 acres on Hill's west side.
In return, Hill will receive 1.6 million square feet of office space at no cost for Air Force projects. The remainder will be leased out to government agencies, defense contractors and other private agencies.
"Nothing good comes easy -- and Falcon Hill is no exception," said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.
"It has taken seven years of working with the Air Force, Hill leaders and all the other responsible parties to bring this deal to fruition."
In addition to Northrop Grumman's building, which will be situated just inside the base's west gate, adjacent to Hill's 526th Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Group, the first new construction will include a new gatehouse and a new security forces building.
Darrin Wray, chief of the Enhanced Use Lease office at Hill, said construction will likely begin next month.
"Basically, this means we can get going on the construction," he said. "With Northrop Grumman in place, we think others will follow."
In addition to government office buildings, the land will include nearly 2 million square feet of business space in the first phase.
Officials hope the park will bring other military-related contractors, such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing and ATK, to support missions that already are ongoing at Hill.
Once the project is complete, officials say, it could eventually bring up to 15,000 jobs to the Top of Utah area.