Utah faring better than other Western states in commercial real estate market

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 10 2010 6:34 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — With big names like Adobe, Electronic Arts and Twitter setting up shop along the Wasatch Front, Utah has fared a bit better than many of its Western neighbors in finding occupants for its available commercial real estate. And while the area has experienced its share of economic difficulty during the recession, the market could be poised for growth in the near future.

Projects in the development pipeline include Falcon Hill — a 550-acre aerospace research park in Clearfield, Station Park — a 62-acre mixed-use development next to Farmington's FrontRunner station, and City Creek Center in the downtown Salt Lake City central business district, said Brandon Fugal, executive vice president at Coldwell Banker Commercial.

And more projects are under way in Utah County as well.

"The former Geneva (Steel) site is 1,700 acres in the center of a major metroplex area … (with) access to three critical thoroughfares," he said. "It's master-planned to be the transit hub for that entire county."

Those types of large-scale commercial developments are going to put the Wasatch Front on solid economic footing as the economy begins to rebound in the coming months, said Douglas Petty, senior vice president at Coldwell Banker Commercial.

The state has benefited from lots of high-profile publicity of late from Forbes and Newsweek, he added, depicting Utah as the place to do business. Those accolades will likely bolster the area's status and eventually translate into more companies occupying available space — meaning more jobs too, he noted.

Meanwhile, office and investment specialist Jordan Wall said lower operating expenses also aid Utah in its competition with other well-known Western states.

"If you are comparing lease rates … (and) the relatively lower wages, the cost of doing business is so much lower than California or Phoenix," he said.

With many of the newly developed properties operating at near or full capacity, even more office and commercial development could be in the pipeline soon — putting the Wasatch Front in a much better position than many other metropolitan areas to emerge from the recession.

"This is robust, dynamic expansion that is literally setting us apart from the rest of the country," Fugal said.

e-mail: jlee@desnews.com

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