State of the City address: Pike looks to ‘the brighter side’ with city growth, building projects

St. George Mayor Jon Pike give the 2018 'State of the City' address to the St. George Area Chamber of Commerce at Dixie State University, St. George, Utah, Feb. 7, 2018 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – Mayor Jon Pike highlighted the continuing growth of St. George and the many projects that bear witness to it during his fourth annual State of the City address Wednesday, touting everything from parks and trials to massive, decades-long developments as a part of the city’s looking forward to “the brighter side.”

St. George Mayor Jon Pike give the 2018 ‘State of the City’ address to the St. George Area Chamber of Commerce at Dixie State University, St. George, Utah, Feb. 7, 2018 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Pike spoke at a St. George Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon held at Dixie State University. His address carried a sense of optimism for the city as it moves into the new year, and repeated one of the city’s mantras that there’s “more happening ahead.”

City growth

“We’re growing at a sustainable pace,” Pike said, referring to the number of building permits issued by the city during 2017.

The city issued 1,800 permits last year, which covers single-family housing, commercial and industrial projects, additions and miscellaneous structures. The total value of those permits is estimated to be $368 million.

Washington County overall gained 2,200 new jobs between December 2016 and December 2017, according to the Department of Workforce Services. The construction field created the most new jobs, with hospitality and health care following close behind.

Read more: Southern Utah mirrors state’s overall employment growth

Major construction projects of the last two years include new shopping centers, student housing and the continuing $300 million expansion of the Dixie Regional Medical Center.

“We’re on the increase, but not too much,” Pike said. “We’re at around 3 percent (growth), and that’s good. That’s sustainable.”

Building projects aplenty

Architectural rendering of exterior of Dixie State University’s new Human Performance Center, St. George, Utah, for which ground was broken Oct. 25, 2017 | Image courtesy of Dixie State University, St. George News

Among the projects carried into 2018 are related to Dixie State University. A student housing complex on Tabernacle Street called “605 Place,” as well as the $55 million Human Performance Center and 5,000-seat structure on the east side of Legend Solar Stadium as a part of the ongoing projects this year.

Read more: Dixie State breaks ground on new Human Performance Center

“The Vintage,” another student-housing complex on Tabernacle Street that took shape last year, has been completed and has begun to house students, Pike said.

Work on Dixie Regional will start to wind down as the project approaches completion near the end of the year, with new and expanded facilities receiving a grand opening around November or so, Pike said.

Other construction projects include housing and mixed-used developments that the mayor said would help with the city’s housing needs. For the last two years, multi-family housing has been beneath 1 percent vacancy in the city, lending to a housing crunch and increasing rental costs.

While some of these project are advertised a having high-end apartments with rents to match, Pike said the incoming rental units would help the market catch up with the demand.

A rendering of the mixed-use “City View” development proposed for downtown St. George at Main Street and St. George Boulevard | Image courtesy of PEG Development, St. George News

“We know we need rental properties,” Pike said. “The market will be catching up.”

Mixed use projects include City View, which recently broke ground in the heart of downtown St. George, as well the nearby Joule Plaza project that could break ground his year. They both sport a mix of retail space on the bottom level and apartment on the upper floors.

Read more: $40 million ‘City View’ project breaks ground in heart of St. George

The downtown projects are being promoted as supporting a lifestyle that will allow residents to live, work and play in the heart of the city.

Other incoming apartment complexes Pike spoke of include the Legacy Ridge complex being built on the eastern side of Foremaster Ridge, as well as the Grayhawk complex being built next to the Virgin River near the Smith’s Marketplace off Mall Drive.

“Some of this will be coming online this year, some in the year after that,” Pike said.

Desert Color project

Desert Color will be a 3,350-acre master-planned community east of Interstate 15 along Southern Parkway, St. George, Utah | Photo courtesy of Desert Color partners, St. George News

“It’s just a little 3,600-acre development. Nothing to see here,” Pike joked as he spoke of the massive project of about 10,000 new residences.

The project is located on the city’s southern edge, along the Utah-Arizona border by Interstate 15 Exit 2 on the east side of the freeway. The area has long been known as the “South Block” and had been pretty quiet until recently. Developers presented the St. George City Council with a proposal of the area in April 2017, and it’s gained traction since and was showcased at the St. George Area Economic Summit last month.

Read more: Plans unveiled for master-planned community in St. George, comprising 10,000 new residences

The massive master-planned community is slated to feature residences built among commercial centers, schools, recreations facilities and so on.

It will take between 25-30 years for the development to reach completion, Pike said.

“It’ll be a very attractive place to live, work and play,” he said.

Tech Ridge

Promoted as the site of the city’s incoming technology and business park, the city recently approved a preliminary development plan for the mesa top that once served as the city’s airport.

Conceptual plans for the development of “Tech Ridge” on the site of the old airport in St. George | Image courtesy of the city of St. George, St. George News

Pike called Tech Ridge an expansion of the city’s downtown that is anticipated to foster the growth of current tech-based companies and promote the creation of news ones in an effort to bring more high-paying jobs to St. George. While the promotion of high-tech companies and jobs is a focus of the project, it will also be surrounded by commercial and high-density residential development as well.

Read more: ‘Tech Ridge’ becoming a reality as city finalizes sale of land

“We believe it will provide an opportunity for what we call ‘critical mass’ to be able to keep and attract tech companies here in St. George,” Pike said.

Bluff Street road work

“It’s a mess out there and it’s going to be until about November,” Pike said of the Bluff Street road construction.

Crews work to compact the large trench at 100 South where water and gas lines have been installed in preparation for a long box culvert as part of the new storm drain system, St. George, Utah, February 2018 | Photo courtesy of the Utah Department of Transportation, St. George News

Read more: So what is this Bluff Street project all about?

The Utah Department of Transportation is widening the road between its intersections with St. George Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard. The project is touted by state and local road officials as a way to help ease congestion on the increasing-traveled roadway.

Due to concerns that businesses along Bluff Street might lose business because they look closed to passersby, Pike said City Council passed an ordinance allowing them businesses to get “creative” with their signage so the public can see they are still open.

Parks, trails and other businesses

  • A fire station in the Little Valley area is still set to be built on Commerce Drive sometime this year.
  • The city completed two large soccer/multi-use sports fields in the Little Valley area.
  • A pedestrian bridge is being built over the Virgin River alongside the River Road bridge.
  • Work continues on the overhaul of Vernon Worthen Park on 400 East.
  • The city is moving to connect its trails to the roads in order to promote the trail system as a mode of transportation and not just for recreation use.
  • SunTran, the city’s public transit service, is getting a new look and four new buses as the current buses are high on mileage.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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  • Not_So_Much February 8, 2018 at 9:08 am

    We MUST keep growing like this if were going to afford the water pipeline. Besides what’s 2 or 3 BILLION dollars and California type growth?

    • PogoStik February 9, 2018 at 8:49 am

      Drought seems to be returning to the SW. Will there be sufficient water remaining in Lake Powell to even feed the pipeline if it is built?

  • Walter1 February 8, 2018 at 9:55 am

    Mayer Pike is a pro-development pro-growth politician, He has very little concern about resident rights and privacy. He has been a poor champion for St. George citizens and so many of their important quality of life concerns! Vote him out. Overcrowding and congestion will become a key problem if this unbridled growth policy continues.

    • 12345 February 8, 2018 at 12:06 pm

      at least Mr Pike knows how to spell Mayor !

  • great success February 8, 2018 at 11:17 am

    Nimby’s–I don’t think Pike is your biggest threat to population growth. Utah’s ongoing population explosion is thanks to natural increase/high birth rates. If you’re truly concerned about growth, I’d petition the leaders of the LDS church, who routinely encourage their congregations to have lots and lots of children.

  • utahdiablo February 8, 2018 at 8:21 pm

    Worthless Money grubber POS…..anything for a buck, new city motto

  • PlanetU February 8, 2018 at 8:36 pm

    You’re damn right about that utahdiablo. Parks and trails are fine but not all the developments – greedy b*stards.

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