LAYTON — City officials want the old Fort Lane shopping area to shine as one of Layton's retail treasures and believe its ideal location may one day pay off by attracting a big-name developer.

Two city leaders and staff members attended the International Council of Shopping Centers meeting May 18-20 in Las Vegas and feel they may have put Layton on the map for potential development.

With more than 75,000 members, the council represents at least 50 percent of all the big development projects in the nation.

Ben Hart, Layton economic development specialist, attended the Las Vegas meeting, along with Mayor Steve Curtis, Councilman Michael Bouwhuis and city planner Peter Matson. This was the first time Layton officials had attended the gathering.

"We talked with some of the biggest developers in the country," he said.

He believes the nearby Commons Park, Ed Kenley Amphitheater, Layton city offices, FrontRunner station and the coming enhanced south Layton I-15 interchange all combine to make Fort Lane an attractive site for development. The strong Utah economy is another plus.

Matson said the 31 acres of land at Fort Lane "is good and comparable" to other significant upscale developments, like The Gateway in Salt Lake City and some in other states.

He also said the site has a built-in walkability that developers seem to favor.

Fort Lane was Layton's first shopping center in mid-1960s but has faltered since the Layton Hills Mall opened in the early 1980s.

Today Fort Lane is owned by Rep. Kevin Garn, R-Layton. He didn't attend the Las Vegas meeting but had his own representatives there and is OK with the city promoting the site, too. Layton only owns a small portion of land at the southeast side of the Fort Lane property.

Officials would like to have more than a shopping center there — some kind of open-air complex, like a smaller Gateway.

Matson said Layton needs to be careful not to attract businesses there that are already in town, to avoid unhealthy competition. He said a good design would be critical to a project at Fort Lane.

Currently, the Fort Lane Shopping Center, located just southwest of the intersection of Gentile and Fort Lane streets, lacks a major anchor store. It still has Kings and Canyon Office and some other businesses but lacks the heavy traffic the Layton Mall area has.

Council members at a May 29 work meeting also acknowledged that a big problem for the area is a lack of adequate parking for the FrontRunner station. The city is hoping it can eventually get some parking space on land to the west, just north of where Intermountain Healthcare is planning its new hospital. That area could be a mixed-use development.

City officials are also hoping for eventual bus service from UTA directly to the FrontRunner station.

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