Weber County leaders mull business park plans, ‘energy hub’ proposal
OGDEN — A 355-acre business park proposal is in the works in western Weber County, aiming to capitalize on demand for light industrial and warehouse space.
The development, if approved, would employ perhaps 3,400 people when fully built out and generate some $1.4 billion in gross revenues a year, those involved estimate.
The Western Weber Planning Commission late last year recommended approval of the rezone that developers from the BlackPine Group need for their Promontory Commerce Center plans. Weber County Commissioners, who have final say, have yet to act.
As the plans have moved forward, county commissioners have simultaneously taken baby steps toward creation of a number of public entities to enable use of public funding to help with infrastructure costs associated with the Promontory development, on a site along the 12th Street corridor. What’s more, county officials are envisioning even bigger things — creation of a vast development area, the West Weber Industrial District and Renewable Energy Hub, that would encompass the Promontory Commerce Center and much more of western Weber County’s undeveloped acreage.
The industrial district and energy hub plans are still in their “infant state” and need to be fleshed out, said Stephanie Russell, the Weber County economic development director.
Either way, they’re ambitious, extending over perhaps 6,000 acres in the vast area, and potentially involving many players. The plans underscore the longstanding goal of county leaders of spurring economic and industrial development in the wide-open spaces of western Weber County.
County leaders “are taking a regional focus and are open to working with other cities, counties and states to pioneer renewable energy development relative to production, advanced manufacturing, storage and transport,” Russell said, alluding to the industrial district and energy hub plans.
More immediate are the Promontory Commerce Center plans, focus of a recent open house to give the public the opportunity to learn more about the proposal. The Promontory land abuts the west side of the Weber River around 5900 West and straddles 900 South, the name of the 12th Street corridor in that section.
Daniel Stephens, the BlackPine Group managing partner, envisions “a commercial center, a big economic hub and a lot of jobs” with the Promontory proposal, which takes in Wadeland Dairy property.
The space would likely contain assembly, warehousing and light manufacturing operations but not heavy industry. Stephens estimates the entities at Promontory would directly employ 3,400 between them and pay $350 million a year in wages. It would generate $1.4 billion a year in gross revenues and indirectly create 2,800 jobs.
“It’d effectively be like the BDO,” or Business Depot Ogden, the northern Ogden business park, but smaller, said Stephens. The BDO — nearly filled to capacity, Stephens notes — contains some 14 million square feet of business space while Promontory would contain around 4.2 million square feet.
Stephens noted the technical schools and skilled workforce in and around Weber County that could provide the manpower, one of the draws to the location, about 5 miles west of Interstate 15. Creating jobs here, he said, prevents workers from having to commute for work.
A BlackPine report to county officials notes demand for industrial space and interest in the project.
The developer “has received several inquiries from equity partners, lenders and tenants for investment in the Promontory Commerce Center,” reads the report. “Much of this interest is fueled by the positive growth trends and strong tenant demand for industrial space, supporting the request for expanded industrial zoning on the site.”
During a public hearing on the Promontory plans at a meeting of the Western Weber Planning Commission last December, those speaking out voiced a few concerns. One resident expressed worry about adding more lights to the remote area and increasing traffic, which they said is already making it difficult to ride a horse in the area. Another wonders about availability of sewer services.
Members of the planning commission, for their part, tweaked the proposed zoning of a portion of the development area from mixed-use residential to mixed-use commercial, leery of housing in the zone. After that, they signaled their support, voting unanimously to recommend approval of the amended rezone and other required general plan changes needed for the Promontory plans to go forward.
Stephens said those attending the April 26 open house at the Ogden Branch library seemed OK with the plans.
“Everyone was very positive tonight. Just a lot of questions, wondering what’s happening,” he said. “They understand growth is coming.”
Bill Cobabe, a senior planner in the Weber County Planning Division, said county commissioners could take up the Promontory question yet this month.
Meantime, county officials are looking into creation of a Promontory Commerce Community Reinvestment Project Area, which would allow for use of tax-increment financing, or TIF, funds on infrastructure improvements in the proposed commerce park. TIF funding is money that would otherwise be distributed as property taxes but is instead invested within project area boundaries.
On Tuesday, Weber County Commissioners approved a measure allowing county staffers to start investigating creation of three proposed public infrastructure districts, or PIDs, in the Promontory footprint. PIDs may issue debt for infrastructure improvements that’s repayable from property taxes or assessments to property owners.
“Both the TIF and PID incentives are a good way for private developers to partner with the county to achieve smart growth and development in the county,” Russell said. TIF and PID funds, she added, could be used to build roads, parks, trails, and sewer and water infrastructure.