One thing missing from West Valley City ever since it became a city 10 years ago is a governmental and commercial nucleus - a "downtown."
But with its new city office complex, completion this month of the Market Street Center next door and long-term plans for additional developments nearby, Utah's second largest city may soon be able to boast a community hub at the crossroads of 2700 West and 3500 South."Literally, this is becoming downtown West Valley City," said Gary R. Crane, city redevelopment project manager, during a tour Tuesday of the nearly finished Market Street Center.
The $11 million project features a three-story professional office building designed to complement the architecture of City Hall. A shared courtyard will link those structures, and farther north are the retail anchors - Toys "R" Us and Kids "R" Us - along with four banks, an armed services recruiting complex and other services.
Across Constitution Boulevard (2700 West) is the prospering Valley Fair Mall, which has been the magnet for the surrounding development. The nearby freeway ramps and the widened connecting roads have further focused the growth.West Valley Mayor Brent F. Anderson said the projects have established a "very good base" for a city center. "It's far from what you would normally consider a downtown, but it's a beginning," the mayor said.
"I think that's true," said Kathy Lund, executive director of the Valley West Chamber of Commerce. "It probably will never be a downtown with tall buildings and a commercial core, but that's not what we want. It's important to encourage growth throughout the city to avoid congestion and bring services close to where people live."
The significance of the developing downtown is that it helps establish a community identity, Lund said.
Contributing to the concept of "city" is the growing demand for professional office space, which the mayor and others view as an indication that West Valley "is a good place to live and work."
Anderson said, "Being the second largest city in the state, we need to have all the professional services represented here. The demand has been there, but in the past, we haven't had the facilities to accommodate them. That is now changing."
Michael L. Nielsen, agent for the Minneapolis-based Heartland Realty Investors, the Market Street Center developers, said negotiations are under way to lease most of the 26,000 square feet of available office space in the new building to a single, large tenant.
"There has been a great deal of interest in that space because of its location," Nielsen said.
Market Street Center is a product of government-private enterprise partnership, Crane said. The city's Redevelopment Agency helped get the project off the ground, and city officials have been involved in every stage of development, he added.
Most of the approximately 250 people hired to work at Market Street Center will be low- to-moderate income individuals, which was one of the conditions of government participation.
City officials and the developers consider the scheduled Oct. 26 ribbon-cutting ceremony a fitting start to the city's second decade.
"When you have a new city, the early years are devoted to establishing basic services," Anderson said. "I would say we have done quite well in the past 10 years, and we're ready now to build on that."