The company is doing so as part of an "Economic Development Area" in which the city, Salt Lake County and other taxing entities (such as Granite School District) have agreed to rebate some of the new property tax revenue generated over the next 15 years to make it more financially feasible for the developer to undertake the venture.
It's a wise investment, said West Valley City Manager Wayne Pyle, calling Freeport West's ARA industrial park "everything you'd want to see in a developing city."
The project will begin with construction of a 500,000-square-foot distribution center, scheduled for completion in about 1½ years.
Ross said his company believes there is a market for large-scale industrial storage centers, facilities that will attract businesses to Utah from all over the country.
But getting the project rolling required the city to create the Economic Development Area and to get other taxing entities to go along.
Salt Lake County opted to participate, said Mayor Ben McAdams, because this is the kind of team effort needed to "bring jobs and economic vitality" to the valley. The county's contribution will help pay for storm drains and a retention basin, the installation and relocation of utility lines and road widening, he said.
State Sen. Howard Draper usually reacts to the phrase "tax increment financing," the term applied to the incentive provided to Freeport West, as if it were profane language.
But the Draper Republican, who also leads the conservative Utah Taxpayers Association, applauded this development as appropriate for use of the tax incentive.
"This is a true economic development project" that would not have occurred in Utah without the tax break, he said, noting that Freeport West is still taking the biggest risk in building before tenants have been secured.
Still, Stephenson said, "I'm confident they will be able to attract these companies that will bring jobs. … The schoolchildren of Utah will benefit because of this project."
Pipeline for future jobs
Freeport West, which owns and manages 10 million square feet of industrial property in Utah, Arizona, California and Nevada, is developing a storage, warehousing and distribution center to be known as ARA:
Location • 6755 W. 2100 South, West Valley City
Size • 130 acres
First building • A 500,000-square-foot distribution center set for completion by the winter of 2015
Architect • Hilton Williams Architects
Projected build-out date • 2019