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Research park might focus on sports

Kimball Junction could soon have a research park for companies specializing in sports medicine and the manufacture of outdoor equipment.

The Boyer Company, which already owns the Redstone shopping center, proposed building the research park on 89 acres owned by Suburban Land Reserve, a real-estate arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The land is south of Tanger Outlet Center, Walmart and the Sheldon Richins Building and north of Olympic Parkway.

"You have this unique situation," Snyderville Basin Planning Commissioner Flint Decker told the developer about the existing Rossignol and Quiksilver headquarters at Kimball Junction. "You have a great opportunity to further explore that."

Former Summit County Community Development Director Dave Allen has partnered with Boyer Co. and said there is a need for more sports medicine facilities in the Snyderville Basin.

"We have certainly heard discussion that the sports focus would be important," Allen to the Basin Planning Commission at a meeting Tuesday at the Sheldon Richins Building.

Boyer Company Chairman Roger Boyer said the project design is similar to a research park built at the University of Utah more than 30 years ago.

"We got involved in the early days of the research park at the University of Utah," Boyer said. "The park has been a wonderful neighbor as far as I am concerned."

ARUP Laboratories and Myriad Genetics are among the companies at the University research park in Salt Lake City.

"We think that the possibility of doing a research-and-development park here would be a wonderful thing for what is going on around the Park City area," Boyer said. "This could be a wonderful Summit County campus."

But Planning Commissioner Bassam Salem said he wonders if Basin residents would view a retail center on the property as a bigger community benefit.

"It’s definitely an interesting idea," Salem said. "A research park would have a lower traffic footprint than would retail."

To offset impacts of the project on the tight housing market in western Summit County the government would require Boyer Company build work force housing units for new employees.

"What we come with is perhaps the attitude of a sponge. We hope to soak up some input and feedback knowing of the urgency of affordable housing," said Dan Lofgren, another Boyer Company partner.

Meanwhile, the project is a small chunk of hundreds of acres the LDS Church owns at Kimball Junction where builders in the past have envisioned nearly 1,000 homes and a million square feet of new commercial development east of Utah Olympic Park.

"Through these next few months we’ll talk more about the entire parcel today we’re really focusing on the research park," Allen said. "The residential density of 900 to 2,000 units is not part of this proposal."

Pay for jobs at research parks is often three times that of retail workers, Allen said.

"Some economic diversity is never a bad thing," Allen said. "We believe that the types of tenants were going to have here is going to attract people to come to conferences."

Allen wants the 89 acres rezoned from less dense residential and hillside development to allow commercial buildings on the property. The less dense areas allow landowners to build just one unit on every 20 or 30 acres of property.

Buildings would be situated away from sensitive streams and wetlands, Summit County Planner Kimber Gabryszak said.

Five acres of the parcel might be used for a new LDS church, Gabryszak said, adding that the church and work force housing would likely be situated east of the Powderwood and Crestview condominiums.

"The traffic is going to be an ongoing issue," Basin Planning Commissioner Mike Washington said about his major concern. "The other issue to me is housing, period."

Allen said he expects the project to provide at least 150 new work force housing units for people who earn under the area median income in the Snyderville Basin.

"The affordable housing needs to be early and up front," Planning Commissioner Jeff Smith said. "The sooner you can build it, the better off you’re going to be and the better off the community is going to be."

Finally, the housing mix must be suited to a broad range of owners, Basin Planning Commissioner Julie Baker said.

"Let’s continue to promote diversity in the county with work force housing," Baker said.

A public hearing to discuss the research park proposal is scheduled at the Sheldon Richins Building Oct. 21.


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