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Clearfield • Utah's top political leaders, developers, a contractor and Air Force brass snipped the ribbon Monday on a new office building, the first of many planned for the massive Falcon Hill National Aerospace Research Park.
The park, visible along Interstate 15 in Clearfield, is being touted as the largest enhanced-use lease project in the Department of Defense's history.
Through such projects, DoD allows a private developer to lease land on base for commercial development, with the promise that the military share in the profits by way of new buildings for its own employees.
In this case, defense contractor Northrop Grumman and its sub-contractors will fill the new five-story structure, dubbed "building 1575," and the Hill Air Force Base (HAFB) team that works with them on the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile program will get a new building next door.
Hill already has a new security forces building and a new West Gate entrance, thanks to revenue from Falcon Hill.
Gov. Gary Herbert on Monday hailed Falcon Hill's first commercial building as an example of an "unprecedented partnership" between government and the private sector.
"This is a new model," said Herbert.
Sen. Orrin Hatch and Rep. Rob Bishop, both Republicans involved in persuading the Air Force to give such a project a try, also spoke at the ribbon-cutting.
HAFB will get up to 1.4 million square feet of office space in return for the use of its 550 acres for the park, Hatch said.
"That means during this period of proposed defense cuts especially military construction funds Hill will have a strategic advantage to attract future workloads," Hatch said.
Northrop Grumman, the lead contractor working with the Air Force on the ICBM, will move 500 employees from another office in Clearfield. Another 100 to 150 employees of its subcontractors also will be housed in the new building, said Tony Spehar, division vice president for the contractor.
The contractor's employees were previously on base, but they were pushed off in the mid-1990s when restructuring at other bases required the office space at Hill.
Falcon Hill is expected to create 15,000 jobs in northern Utah over the next 30 years. It's being developed by Sunset Ridge Development, a partnership between Woodbury Corp. of Salt Lake City and Hunt Companies of El Paso, Texas.
"This is totally unique," said Jeff Woodbury, general counsel for the company. "There is not anything like this anywhere in the world."