Residential, retail, commercial and industrial developments are happening so fast along the western corridor of Davis and Weber Counties, at least one city within the corridor is taking quick steps to stay ahead of the explosive growth.
Once a rural farming community where 15,000 residents were sparsely scattered between alfalfa fields and onion crops, Syracuse City has become a population center in its own right. Some 150,000 people live and another 57,000 work within a five mile radius of the city, says new Economic Development Director Brigham Mellor.
"We have our work cut out for us to manage the growth," he adds. "The city has taken the approach that it wants to give everyone a seat at the table, developers and residents alike, to give everyone an equal opportunity to let their voices to be heard."
The explosive growth has demanded some significant changes. Mellor says amazing infrastructure improvements are under way within the city, including bike trails and walking paths, road improvements, highways, power corridors and transmission line improvements. Meanwhile, at Still Water Lake Estates, two newly-made lakes offer residents the opportunity to enjoy the urban lifestyle while living in a residential ski lake community where each lot backs up to a tournament-capable ski lake.
And Mellor says the City of Syracuse is certainly open for business, with three active redevelopment agency projects and a desire to establish more. "We have a great city council and planning commission and they know what they want to see, so there isn't any uncertainty, lack of commitment or hesitancy within city leadership."
Currently, the only highway that connects with Syracuse is SR-193, which runs along the north side of the Freeport West industrial Development Center. Mellor says the city has big plans for the land along that highway, which will eventually connect with the West Davis Corridor. "Developers like The Ninigret Group, which owns a 156-acre business park along SR-193, have seen how the city's plans will breathe new life into the commercial base in Syracuse and are excited to be part of it," he adds.
Mellor describes Freeport West as "the perfect light industrial development," with a rail spur, shovel-ready infrastructure and short 30-mile distance to the Intermodal Hub in Salt Lake City. United States Cold Storage is one of the last big commercial projects to land in the development. It offers 5.2 million cubic feet of refrigerated storage and another 1 million cubic feet of food grade dry storage.
Two new commercial development projects are in the works within the city. Together, they could create 100-200 new jobs. Meanwhile, the Syracuse Arts Academy just completed a new school within a 110-acre area being developed by Ninigret and The Boyer Group.
As the population demographic changes, Mellor says more people are looking for work closer to home, sometimes even taking less pay in trade for quality of life. Syracuse has tried to augment that quality of life with the development of its network of paved bike trails. Hence, Mellor is able to commute to work most days by bicycle.
One might be surprised to note that Syracuse has the third highest household income in Davis County, at $86,000 per year, and 35 percent of the population has a bachelor degree or higher, compared to the state average of 30 percent. Some 92 percent of the population own their own homes, according to Mellor, which is one of the highest rates in the state. In 2014, 10 percent of all building permits issued in Davis County were issued in Syracuse.
While the city wouldn't be thought of as a tourist destination, it serves as the gateway to Antelope Island, catering to the needs of more than 350,000 visitors annually who pass through Syracuse on their way to wonderful biking, hiking, camping and wildlife viewing opportunities on the unique island.