Hill Air Force Base breaks ground Falcon Hill research park

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OGDEN -- Ground was broken Wednesday on a massive new development at Hill Force Base called Falcon Hill. It's a public-private partnership between the federal government, the State of Utah and private developers and is being called the first of it's kind around the county.

The development is going to be an aerospace research park that stretches three and a half miles long on the western edge of the base, where the west gate currently sits.

The Air Force is going to lease out 550 acres of land to a developer for 50 years. When the project is built out over the next 20 to 25 years, it will have over 8 million square feet of office space, along with some retail and hotels to support the offices.

Air Force personnel and defense contractor Northrup Grumman will work together on Intercontinental Ballistic Missile maintenance at the research park.

Northrup Grumman will move 650 people on base from its nearby facility and become the anchor tenant for future growth at Falcon Ridge.

Falcon Hill aerospace research park
- Located in Hill Air Force Base, both inside and outside the fence
- 550 acre private development
- A $1.5 billion public-private venture
- Features over 2 million square feet of commercial space in phase one alone
- Eventually will have 8 million square feet of office space and supporting restaurants and hotels
- First building to take approximately 15 months to complete

Darren Wray, chief of the Enhanced Use Lease Office overseeing the project at Hill Air Force Base, says in return for leasing the land, the military will get up to 1.6 million square feet of office space in new buildings at no cost.

"The base is going to get some new infrastructure that is badly needed," Wray said Wednesday. "The community is going to get some additional tax revenue and some economic development here."

Even though the land belongs to the federal government, the development will be taxed by state agencies.

U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch has been one of many politicians working over the past eight years to move the project forward.

"This will solidify Hill Air Force Base like never before," Hatch said. "This is going revitalize all of northern Utah, and it's certainly going to strengthen our military."

Falcon Hill was first announced two years ago. "The laws that permit this type of development are relatively new," Hatch said, explaining why the first construction project is just now being announced.

Hatch said lead developer Jim Woodbury has been busy during that time working through a new federal-state-private bureaucracy.

"I think they were afraid the almighty federal government would renege on it -- and so was I," Hatch said.

Among the changes, Hill's north and west gates will be moved to better accommodate traffic, and more than 130 old buildings will be demolished as new buildings in the Falcon Hill project take their place. That means new workspace for nearly 6,000 of the base's 23,500 employees, according to the Air Force.

"This is just the beginning of a lot of similar projects," said Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, whose district includes Hill.

Bishop said the project is good for the nation's defense capabilities and is good financially for Utah.

"There are incentives for the local economy," he said. At the state and community level, "All of those people were very firm in their support of this project."

At the complete build out of the project, the research park is expected to bring as many as 15,000 new jobs to the area.


Story compiled with contributions from Randall Jeppesen, Steve Fidel and Jed Boal.


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