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Geoffrey McAllister, Deseret News
U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch speaks during a ceremony announcing the Falcon Hill Aerospace Research Park development on Wednesday.

HILL AIR FORCE BASE — Five years of talk, debate and planning culminated Wednesday in the signing of a lease agreement to begin developing the underused west side of Hill Air Force Base.

About 550 acres of land along I-15 in Clearfield, Sunset, Roy and Riverdale will become, over the next 25 years, Falcon Hill Aerospace Research Park.

It is the largest such agreement in the history of the U.S. Air Force, and officials expect to break ground on the first building in October.

"The idea of partnering with the state to develop Hill Air Force Base's west side is finally moving forward," said Maj. Gen. Kathie Close, commander of the Ogden Air Logistics Center, which encompasses all of the missions and wings at Hill.

The state of Utah has pledged $10 million, which will be managed by the Military Installations Development Authority and used for construction. The MIDA was created by the state in 2007 to offer such support.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, praised the cooperation among local, state, federal and military officials to get the project off the ground.

"Falcon Hill is not only Hill's future, it represents northern Utah's future," he said.

The multimillion dollar development will mostly consist of office and research space but will also include two hotels, retail establishments and some restaurants, along with the jobs and sales and property taxes those buildings will generate.

Project manager Darrin Wray said about 1.8 million square feet of office space will be built and most buildings will range between 75,000 and 125,000 square feet.

To make way for Falcon Hill, 134 buildings on base, many which were built around World War II, will eventually be demolished, and the base fence will be moved back to accommodate office buildings open to the public, Wray said. New buildings for base employees will be built inside the new fence line.

The land is coming to be developed under what is known as an enhanced-use lease.

An enhanced-use lease allows the Air Force to lease underutilized land to a private developer, who builds infrastructure and buildings and in turn, leases those buildings to tenants.

In the case of Falcon Hill, Salt Lake City-based developer Woodbury Corp., will be seeking aerospace and aerospace research companies to set up shop right next to a base constantly seeking to expand its missions.

Woodbury president and CEO Rick Woodbury said he can't talk about specific tenants yet, but those he has approached are excited about the possibilities.

Woodbury said Hill is unique among Air Force bases around the country, because most don't have prime, freeway-frontage real estate to develop.

Woodbury Corp. currently owns about 1.5 million square feet of office space, because its strength is retail, Woodbury said, noting the Roy Marketplace and Layton Marketplace as two of his company's retail holdings in northern Utah. Falcon Hill will more than double Woodbury's office space holdings.

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