ST. GEORGE – Where planes once took off from a hilltop mesa overlooking the heart of St. George, city officials are looking for developers to help the vision of a tech park there take flight.
Previous to 2008, there was a potential plan for the entire 180-plus acres that make up the former St. George Municipal Airport to become residential and commercial development. However, those plans were derailed when the Great Recession set in.
In the years since, a new direction has taken over what has became known as the Ridge Top Complex.
In December 2015 the St. George City Council rezoned the old airport grounds as one of the first moves toward creating a technology park there. Along the way, a 30-acre parcel was obtained by the Dixie Applied Technology College for its new permanent campus that broke ground in January 2016 and is slated to open later this year.
The $45 million DXATC campus has been touted as the centerpiece for the anticipated technology park that hopes to draw technology-based research companies and businesses.
To help facilitate the continued development of the area, the city-owned 28 acres north of the DXATC campus is the subject of a “Request for Qualifications” call out to prospective developers to help build the city’s vision for what is now being called “Tech Ridge.”
“The City Council, city manager and I are excited to see our vision for Tech Ridge take this important step forward,” St. George Mayor Jon Pike said. “I am optimistic that we’ll soon have options before us that will facilitate growth in technology companies and jobs right in the heart of beautiful St. George.”
A Request for Qualifications is a document outlining a vision for a project – in this case Tech Ridge – that helps city officials identify developers who fit the city’s expectations, said Matt Loo, the city’s economic director.
The city put out the call for RFQs Aug. 11.
“This RFQ is very specific,” Loo said. “It’s geared on technology and technology-based jobs.”
Creating a tech center in St. George is seen as the next step in the city’s economic development, Loo said, and is anticipated to create more higher-paying jobs for the community.
“We’re looking at several hundred jobs up there,” he said, adding that some jobs could pay as high as $65,000 to $80,000 annually. “Here in Southern Utah (that) is very substantial.”
Bringing the potential for higher-paying jobs in St. George is also seen as a way to keep the city’s younger population around rather than their moving away to for better opportunities, Loo said.
“Our primary goal is to develop an opportunity for our children, or our grandchildren, to get educated and certified and be able to have a great job here in Southern Utah and stay here.”
Mixed in with space for the tech companies the city seeks to attract are exceptions for mixed-use development. In an effort to create an environment where people can live, work and play, Tech Ridge will hopefully include commercial, residential and recreational development, Loo said.
An animated computer rendering set to video gives an example of what a built-out Tech Ridge with parks and paths, as well as the overall development, may look like.
See video in media player above.
Incorporating walking paths, as well as potential cycling facilities, is also a part of the city’s plans to involve aspects of active transportation in its future development.
The 28-acre parcel in the first phase of developing Tech Ridge may start to see some development within two to three years, Loo said.
Overall development could take 20 years or more.
The window for developers to submit RFQs closes Oct. 2. Anyone interested in learning more about the Tech Ridge RFQ can visit the project’s website at TechRidgeRFQ.com.
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