ST. GEORGE — With the hopes of turning the site of the old airport into a technology hub for St. George, city officials finalized the sale of land on what’s now being called “Tech Ridge.”
Conceptual plans for development of the entire complex include space for buildings housing multiple tech companies surrounded by residential neighborhoods, restaurants and hotels, all flanked by a large amount of open space for recreation.
During a City Council meeting Thursday, city officials voted unanimously and enthusiastically to finalize a purchase agreement with developer Tech Ridge, LLC, to begin making the planned “Live-Work-Play” concept a reality.
The initial sale of land encompasses about 10 acres on the north end of the ridge top where new facilities will be constructed for Southern Utah-based tech firms busybusy and Printer Logic near Dixie Technical College. Additional phases are projected to be completed over a period of several years, eventually resulting in the sale of the entire 155-acre property.
“As we’re building a tech company down here, we’ve always kind of wondered, ‘What are we going to do to stay here,’” said Isaac Barlow, CEO of busybusy and a managing member of the development group. “To do that, we really have to attract and retain top talent that we have.”
The concept for Tech Ridge calls for a collaborative environment in which employees can work and play synergistically, regardless of their company affiliation.
At a price of $160,000 per acre, the city expects the sale of land to bring big returns to the St. George community.
Long-term plans include development of an extensive park system with miles of trails around the ridge. Once fully developed, the developer plans to donate the property back to the city, potentially saving taxpayers tens of millions of dollars.
“It will be an incredible legacy for our public to go up there and share in the vision and the views, plus the value it has for downtown,” St. George City Manager Gary Esplin said.
If successful, Tech Ridge also has the potential to infuse the St. George economy, leading to increased wages and a higher standard of living for the entire community.
“We’re tired of being down here on the bottom end of the pay scale, and that’s where we are right now,” Esplin said of wages in St. George. “Wouldn’t it be nice for those Dixie State University folks that are graduating from those programs have the opportunity to have a high paying job?”
“This is, I think, the highest and best use (of the property) … to create jobs and higher-wage jobs,” Mayor Jon Pike said.
Construction on the first phase of the development is expected to begin in the summer on the new busybusy and Printer Logic offices.
At the region’s current rate of growth, development of the entire project is expected to span 20-25 years, Esplin said.
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