SUNSET — Construction is expected to begin this fall on phase one of the West Gate Development along the west side of Hill Air Force Base.

"We anticipate negotiations to be completed next month," Darrin Wray, West Gate Development project manager from Hill, told the Sunset City Council last week.

The project's commercial and retail developer is Sunset Ridge Development Partners, a consortium of three companies, including Utah-based Woodbury Corp., Hunt ELP of Texas and Flintridge Partners of California.

The project aims to take 500 to 550 acres of underutilized property along the east side of I-15, moves the base's fence inward one-half mile for a 3.5-mile stretch and allows Sunset Ridge to lease the land long-term. In exchange, Hill will receive free replacements for its older buildings in that area.

It's a win-win situation, because the military gets no-cost buildings and saves some $350 million — not having to use taxpayer money — and nearby cities will be able to share in the tax revenues and benefits with new job growth.

Hill wants to replace 1.5 million square feet of office space that is currently using World War II-era converted warehouses.

"They're pretty dilapidated," Wray said.

These new military office complexes would be constructed by the developer on base property, while the developer will simultaneously build the non-military structures. Occupancy of the new buildings could begin as early as the spring of 2010.

Phase one involves some 180 acres of development of three- to eight-story buildings near the Hill Aerospace Museum area (north side) and near the west entrance to Hill area (south side) in Clearfield. This project should involve two hotels, one on each end, plus retail and office space.

"Our goal is to build an aerospace-research park," Wray said, stressing that it seeks to not compete with existing area businesses.

The development will proceed on both ends, so Sunset, being in the middle, will be the last to see any new construction.

"We anticipate 10,000 (new) jobs in phase one," Wray said, noting there could be 20,000 to 25,000 new jobs by the entire project's completion of all phases.

He said the project already has contracts to occupy 60,000 square feet of office space on the non-military side, and he added that the outlook is very promising.

"We hope it brings a lot of benefit to the community," Wray said. "As a whole, it will be a great thing for the state." He admittedthere could be as many as nine phases in the project and it could take 25 years or so to build out.

Sunset Mayor Dan Gotchy said his big concerns are the caches of pollution that still exist in that development area. Wray said when they are uncovered, the developer will have to work elsewhere until Hill is able to clean them up.

Hill's railroad shop, in the Sunset strip, also will have to be relocated before that area can be developed. Wray said he's hoping the proposed 1800 North I-15 interchange, now scheduled for 2025, can be fast-tracked to as early as 2013 to better tie into the West Gate project.

Sunset Councilman Ryan Furniss said he's very impressed with the project so far and believes communities are being given chances for input.

"This is a very fluid project and driven by demand," he said.

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