Stepping into the role of economic development director for Taylorsville a year ago, Wayne Harper knew the challenges he faced. Though the city is relatively new by incorporation date, Taylorsville has been a bedroom community for decades. The mixed bag of having great highway access coupled with being the most densely-populated city in the state, but an aging infrastructure of shopping locations, has slowed economic growth.
“We have 60,000 people living in a 10-square-mile area,” Harper said. “About a third of our community is multi-family housing, which presents its own challenges. And 40 to 50 years ago, we had some real nice retail development that came into town. But those structures aged, and so many are now vacant and under-utilized. Many of them are along Redwood Road, and in some retail centers, there’s a 60 percent vacancy rate.”
Harper and his team have been focusing on working with those property owners, encouraging them to reinvest in their properties to make them attractive to new businesses. It’s part of a three-prong strategy which Taylorsville City has undertaken to spur prosperity in the community.
Proposed retirement community at 6200 South and Bangerter Highway.
“First is retail revitalization,” Harper said. “We’ve made some good progress there. There’s a new owner for the 68-acre Family Center that has renamed it the Crossroads of Taylorsville. Plans are to demolish most of the buildings on the north end and in the back, and re-tenant that with restaurants, a movie theater and destination retail.”
He added that the new owners are working with a couple of national theater owners right now, saying “there are multiplexes that want to come here.”
On the south end, redevelopment has already begun, with cleanup started, and some new construction. Harper said the Crossroads is a five to eight-year project, but changes will start to be seen very soon. And, on the north side of 5400 South, the Furniture Warehouse building is also under contract (no details released yet).
“The second phase is employment,” Harper said.
“We have basically four undeveloped areas of the city that are in the 20-100-acre range,” he said. “There are 20 acres near American Express where the city has granted approval for construction of three 100,000-square- foot office buildings. As they gain occupancy, jobs will be created.”
Each of the buildings will be two-story with a parking structure and will be designed as class A office space. Construction on the first building will begin this spring, with occupants yet to be announced.
Another area where new business is growing rapidly is in the Sorenson Research Park, 4383 South Riverboat Road. Harper said there were four vacant buildings in the park a few months ago, but now there is only one.
“It seems to be a very popular core area for engineering and communications,” he said.
The third area of focus involves quality of life, as city personnel work to improve existing parks, create more trail systems and make sure housing is available for all lifestyles and ages.
“With that said, we have 100 acres of UDOT property (off 6200 South, east of Bangerter Highway) that will be developed into a senior living center with all the amenities. Erickson Living should be coming before the planning commission in March for approval of the first phases. Eventually, the property will have as many as 1,500 residential units for independent living—a barber shop, bookstore, music and game rooms, pools, a theater, a TV studio, and transportation to stores, doctors, the [LDS] temple, etc. It will offer everything for an active lifestyle.”
What Taylorsville residents can expect to see in the short term is development in the core area along Redwood Road and 5400 South. Also high on the docket is the 4100 South area of Redwood, and the old Kmart shopping center site off Bangerter.
UDOT completed a study showing that 18 intersections on Bangerter need to be changed to interchanges like the flyover at 7800 South and Bangerter. The next two on that UDOT list to be funded, Harper said, are at 5400 South and Bangerter, and 7000 South and Bangerter.
Harper sees an upswing for Taylorsville’s economic development future.
“We have formed some great partnerships. We have the highest traffic count in the state, and while that can present some challenges, it also provides great opportunity for retailers. And the city provides great support—we help out a property owner or developer and can customize plans to meet their needs. This is a great place to do business, and, of course, a great place to live,” he said.