WASHINGTON CITY – A longtime goal of city officials to see commercial development rise along Washington Parkway continues to bear fruit with the unveiling of a major project earlier this month.
“Grapevine Crossing,” an 80-acre project set on the east side the Interstate 15’s Exit 13 leading onto Washington Parkway, is described as a resort-commercial style project that takes an “experience-based approach” to retail.
Troy Belliston, Washington City Councilman and the developer-owner of the project, said the concept of the development is to combine public facilities like a park or amphitheater with retail outlets and restaurants so the two can share the same patrons in a mutually beneficial relationship.
“If we take the concept of an amphitheater and combine it with some restaurants, then that public utility boost that private entity and vice-versa,” he said.
For example, a family who may be waiting on a table at a restaurant may wait by the amphitheater and enjoy an outdoor program, Belliston said.
Beyond the idea of parks and an amphitheater, there are plans to incorporate special attractions and exhibits into the development. That would include exhibits related to the desert tortoise and dinosaurs, among other attractions.
“We’ve tried to incorporate perceptions of what makes Southern Utah special,” Belliston said.
It was be the amphitheater and parks that would add the “public” aspect to the development. Developers plan to approach the city with a request for tax-increment financing which would defer property taxes above a certain rate to go back into the project. This would be used to pay for the parks and amphitheater, which would be gifted to the city in return, Belliston said.
The overall project will cost an estimated $150 million with plans for 137 tenet spaces. The project also sports spots for a grocery store and theater, as well as spaces for seven restaurants and seven drive-thru establishments.
While other commercial developments have used grocery stores as the anchor tenets of their projects, Belliston said, “The project itself is the anchor. A grocer could come and go.”
The project is near the end of the design phase with Belliston about ready to start marketing it, he said.
The general concept and conceptual designs were shared with the Washington City Council Jan. 9, with a wider debut given during the St. George Area Economic Development Summit Jan. 11.
“I think it’s a wonderful concept,” Washington City Mayor Ken Neilson said.
The area around Exit 13, he said, has long been eyed by commercial developers as a potential hot spot.
“Mile 13 has been on the radar in Utah – from Provo to Vegas – for a lot of developers to be one of the top markets to build in Southern Utah,” Neilson said. “So we’re excited.”
Already home to a Maverik convenience store and gas station, other incoming businesses to the area off Exit 13 include a Black Bear Diner and a Best Western hotel.
The development would also help add to the sales tax revenue the city is able to collect for its annual budget. That is another reason why the Neilson and other elected city officials are pleased with the incoming development along Washington Parkway.
Being a member of the City Council, Belliston acknowledged a conflict of interest he said he’s been very open about with others.
“I was pretty open when I ran for council,” Belliston said, adding, “I think the job I have makes me more effective on the council.”
When it comes to voting on anything related to Grapevine Crossing, however, Belliston said he will recuse himself accordingly.
The development is anticipated to take five to seven years to build once construction starts, with ground possibly being broken within the year if all goes well, Belliston said.
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