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  #1  
Old Posted Oct 10, 2006, 1:09 PM
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St.George Metro:Official Development News Thread




This past Summer St.George and it's surrounding metro seemed to hit the front pages daily. From So. Cal to Boston, it was among the new, "IT" Girl's on the block. Whether as a place for Angeleno's and American's in general to retire, Las Vegans to get-away, or just a great place to start a career and build a family. St. George even supplanted Vegas as fastest growing. Of course, this has led to many development challenges for this beautiful oasis.

The streets of Her southern metro are lined with Palms,and red-rock splendor while her northern metro is surrounded by breathtaking mountains,forrests,and giant mesa's. In the morning, you might choose to play a round of Golf with the like's of Zion National Park as your back drop, or maybe take in a few downhill runs at BrianHead ski resort. After, "a few hours at the office", then off to pick up your honey for a night on the Vegas Strip. (No Doze not included)

Residentially, St.George is taking a much needed, but brief breather right now. However, her makeover as Utah's next major metro will continue unabated.

Ultra Luxury Spa Resort in Utah: Amangiri of Aman Resorts


"Ritzy resort to open in Lake Powell area:"

Luxury spa operator Amanresorts will run a $200 million resort near Lake Powell for wealthy world travelers.

The 100,000-square-foot spa, offering $1,200-a-night rooms and villas for up to $6million, is scheduled to open by mid-2008

Amanresorts, a hotel-management group based in Singapore, oversees posh playgrounds around the globe, from France to French Polynesia. Its only other U.S. resort is in Wyoming's Jackson Hole.

The Kane County resort will be a quick drive from Glen Canyon Dam, Grand Canyon National Park and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Guests will be able to ski Lake Powell, hike the Vermilion Cliffs and fish in the Colorado River.

"When you take into account who will manage (it), combined with the idyllic setting in canyon country, it might be the No. 1 resort in the United States and one of the top 10 in the world" said Homi Vazisdar, managing director of project developer Canyonland Development LLC.

Gov. Jon Huntsman has said the resort will bolster Utah's international appeal among jet-setters.

The southern Utah resort will have a 34-room hotel, 28 private villas and a mammoth spa.

Kanab resident Jim Matson, who is overseeing Salt Lake-based Okland Construction, said crews are laying sewer and water lines. Underground propane tanks will supply gas, and a microwave tower will go up on a butte for telecommunications.

Matson said the project is expected to increase Kane County's assessed valuation by 20 percent and employ at least 110 workers to take care of guests.

"They will probalbly do everything for you but brush your teeth," amatson said.


.

Last edited by delts145; Oct 21, 2012 at 10:40 PM.
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Old Posted Oct 10, 2006, 3:15 PM
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St. George is really considered a "metro"??? I stopped there last year when I moved from California to Denver and it felt like a big town, but not really a city or metro area. Seemed fairly isolated as well. It seemed like a good place for a resort spa though, considering the very un-Utah-like climate and palm trees.
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Old Posted Oct 10, 2006, 3:19 PM
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Inc. Magazine's Hottest Cities:

Inc. Magazine's "2006 Hottest Cities" list, St. Gerorge ranks as No.2 among 393 U.S. cities for the best place to do business. The magazine's rankings, in the hottest cities issue, are based on recent and long-term employment growth rates. St. George posted a one year job growth rate of 7.9 percent and a five-year job growth rate of 38.2 percent giving it an index score of 98.8 out of a possible 100, the magazine said.
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Old Posted Oct 10, 2006, 3:30 PM
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I know, crazy isn't it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by COtoOC
St. George is really considered a "metro"??? I stopped there last year when I moved from California to Denver and it felt like a big town, but not really a city or metro area. Seemed fairly isolated as well. It seemed like a good place for a resort spa though, considering the very un-Utah-like climate and palm trees.
I guess the county of Washington where it resides is filling up with development pretty quickly. Also many town's along the fifty mile corridor between St. George and Cedar City are growing at an equal rate.

As far as isolated? Well, name a town in the west that isn't surrounded by vast areas of open range. Remember though, St. George is feeding big time off it's uber-growth neighbor, "Las Vegas", which is a very relaxed and quick commute away.
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Old Posted Oct 10, 2006, 7:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by delts145

I guess the county of Washington where it resides is filling up with development pretty quickly. Also many town's along the fifty mile corridor between St. George and Cedar City are growing at an equal rate.

As far as isolated? Well, name a town in the west that isn't surrounded by vast areas of open range. Remember though, St. George is feeding big time off it's uber-growth neighbor, "Las Vegas", which is a very relaxed and quick commute away.
Yeah, it definitely seemed more connected to Vegas than SLC - and not a bad drive either. Since I had a cat and dog in the car (and it was over 100 degrees) I couldn't spend time looking around the city.
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Old Posted Oct 11, 2006, 12:21 AM
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St. george huh?.....that area is growing fast for what i am told. i have a younger brother who lives down there and he tells me that it gets busy down there like the roads. i'll e-mail him to see if there's any new projects going on down there.
but here's what i know....

St george will be getting a NEW Airprot.....

St george will be getting a new freeway (a I-215 kind of freeway) that will go around the city and new aiport.

I wounder how soon it will be befor the city starts to get some highrises?
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Old Posted Oct 11, 2006, 7:44 PM
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Post Former Hamlet's surrounding St. George are becoming big town's







Hurricane hails its 100th but braces for growth

By Nancy Perkins
Deseret Morning News

HURRICANE, Washington County- This year as Hurricane City celebrate's it 100th birthday, local officials are struggling to keep up with a whirlwind of growth-related problems.

"About six months ago, we sat down and went through all the residential units that have been before the planning commision in some form or another, and there were 40,000 lots,"said Mac Hall, Hurricane's public works director. "Some of those are in the county, yes, but they still impact the city in a big way."

Hurricane's population surged 12.2 percent from 9,793 in July 2004 to nearly 11,000 residents a year later. The city more than doubled in size from 1990 to 2000, according to data from the Utah Department of Economic Development. The state's population forecast chart shows Hurricane building out to at least 54,000 residents, making it the third largest city in the county behind St. George and Washington.

"About 600 homes were built in Hurricane last year and I think we'll have over 400 this year," said Hall. "Things are slowing down a little bit and giving us a chance to catch up. " The city Council just increased property taxes by 36 percent, and raw land is selling for a bundle, he said.

"I know of a five-acre parcel that sold for $100,000 an acre," said Hall. "I don't think you can get a building lot for less than $150,000."

Hall is plagued with worries over how the city is going to provide transportation and other infrastructure to all those newcomers that outsiders project will soon move to Hurricane.

"Just planning and trying to make the utilities and transportation available for what people are asking for is a real struggle," Hall said. U-9, a main east-west roadway through Hurricane and on to Zion National Park, is already crowded.

"I don't know how (U-9) is going to be able to handle what we're going to throw at it," he added. "Transprortation is the biggest nut to crack, but providing enough water and power is a big one, too."

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Old Posted Oct 12, 2006, 11:56 AM
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Post St. George to double it's size in land area.

Associated Press

ST. GEORGE - County commissioners endorsed a proposed land deal that would nearly double the size of this fast-growing city by auctioning nearly 38 square miles of federal land to private developers.

Commissioners signed a resolution Tuesday, supporting the Washington County Growth and consevation Act of 2006, a bill sponsored by Sen. Bob Bennett R-Utah, and Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah.

"We consider it an extremely important piece of legislation... for out future," said Jim Eardley, chairman of the Washington Copunty commission.

The bill offers wilderness protection for 343 square miles, although half of that already is protected inside Zion National Park and Many other areas already are managed by federal agencies as potential wilderness.

The bill also would expand a preserve for the threatened desert tortoise.

Conservation groups have denounced the plan and vowed to hold it up in Congress, saying it ignores most lands worthy of wilderness protection in the county. The government owns 87 percent of Washington County land.

The commission's endorsement came after a consultant, Randy Johnson, said the land deals would start with 4,300 acres already identified by the U.S. bureau of Land Management as suitable for sale.

Johnson said the bill authorizes - but doesn't require - the BLM to sell of 24,300 acres, The Spectrum of St. George reported.

But copy of the bill on Bennett's Web site says the Interior Secretary "must" sell the first 4,300 acres by 2013. it says the secretary could sell the other 20,000 unidentified acres starting in 2010.

The bill directs 85 percent of the money to the federal government for local conservation projects and a High Desert Off-Highway Vehicle Trail, according to Bennett's office.

The remaining 15 percent would go to the state, county and county water district.

The bill creates a corridor for a 120-mile water pipeline from Lake Powell as well as land for reservoirs, storage tanks, pump sites and flood-control projects.

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Old Posted Oct 16, 2006, 11:48 AM
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Thumbs up St.George airport expansion moving closer

17.2M first installment will buy land for the new facility

By Mark Havnes
The Salt Lake Tribune

ST. GEORGE - Plans for a new airport for this southwestern Utah community soared higher recently when the project received a $17.2-million federal grant.
Delivering the cash was Marion Blakey. The Federal Aviation Administration administrator praised the dignitaries, gathered for a ceremony at the current St. George Municipal Airport, for their perseverance.
"There's one word on everyone's lips, and that is 'finally,' " Blakey said to applause from the attendees, many of whom have worked on the project since it was first proposed more than 10 years ago.
The money is the first installment of federal dollars and will be used to acquire 227 of the 1,300 acres necessary to build the $182 million facility five miles southeast of downtown.
"Big plans require big money," said Blakey. "This is about economic development and connections necessary for communities to thrive. You deserve what others have enjoyed for decades."
The new airport is scheduled to be completed by 2011, but St. George Mayor Daniel McArthur told the 200 people at the ceremony that he hopes to see a SkyWest jet lift off from the new airport in four years.
In an interview after her remarks, Blakey said it is rare to build an airport from scratch. She cited the Denver airport as the last one she could recall in the past 10 years.
She said the federal government will contribute money according to a plan that requires matching dollars from the city.
The financial split has not been worked out yet, but Blakey said federal money could pay for at least half the cost.
McArthur, said a financial plan is being drawn up, and a design team to plan the airport will be assembled.
He said the city's share of money will come from airline fees, federal grants and sale of the 288 acres the current airport occupies on a volcanic bluff overlooking the city of 160,000 residents.
He expects about $30 million from sale of the land, and he promised: "We will not raise taxes to build the airport."
SkyWest CEO Jerry Atkin said the new airport will provide much-needed facilities for his St. George-based airline.
He predicted that being able to land the airline's larger jets will increase passenger traffic, which currently tops 32 million passengers a year.
Second District Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, praised the perseverance of McArthur, who, he said, lobbied him - even before St. George was added to his district.
"Things have worked out now, and we all have to stay on the same page," said Matheson.

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Old Posted Oct 17, 2006, 11:40 AM
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Post Dixie College Experiences Growing Pains!!

Dixie College is seeking new center

Erin Stewart Deseret Morning News
Set in the fastest-growing community in the state, Dixie State College is quickly running out of space -- in outdated buildings -- to fit its surging enrollment.

With a 100 percent increase in students in the past decade, the St. George college is overcrowded and bracing for even more growth once the college's burgeoning bachelor's degree program is in full swing.

"We're not only reflecting the enormous growth of Washington County, but we added to it as well," said Donna Dillingham-Evans, vice president of academic services. "We're bursting at the seams with good students."

As the number of students continues to mount each year at Dixie, school leaders don't think they can wade through the traditional building process that could leave some departments waiting 15 years for more space.

School officials have a plan, however, to circumvent that process and get more space for all the students within five years: a supersized, all-in-one building right in the center of campus.

"The state is struggling to fund education in general and Dixie in particular. We have to be a little bit more creative to get caught up with some of the problems," Dixie President Lee Caldwell said.

The project -- estimated to cost between $40 million and $60 million -- will get its first hearing before the Board of Regents on Friday, and school leaders hope it will land before the state Legislature in 2007.

The idea behind the 200,000- to 300,000-square-foot, five-story complex is to combine an updated library, student services and several academic departments under one roof. Then, if those departments continue to grow, they could move into new buildings and the library could simply expand without the need for a new building.

Departments like elementary education and science could get more space now and save the state money in the long run by reducing the number of renovations needed to accommodate future growth, said Stan Plewe, vice president of college services.

Those future projections hint at even tighter quarters for Dixie with more than 25 additional bachelor's degrees set to come online within five years and an estimated enrollment increase of 50 percent.

"Our dilemma is to realize that you're only going to get so many state dollars for capital buildings. It's kind of a notion to be the right size for the near future and then the same right size in the 2020 scheme," Plewe said. "The flexibility exists to adjust to whatever that pressure would be."

If the school doesn't get the complex, Plewe said Dixie will still need seven new buildings at a cost of about $150 million in the next 20 to 25 years.

Even if the all-in-one concept is approved, Caldwell said, Dixie is going to have to continue reshaping its campus to cram in more students. Locked in by a cemetery on one side and a highway on the other, land expansion for Dixie is limited.

And while college leaders are trying to buy more stretches of land, the blistering land prices in the area pose a major roadblock. Dixie will have to look increasingly to vertical growth to add on classrooms, Caldwell said.

"If I look ahead 10-15 years, I think it's not unreasonable to assume we're going to have 15,000-20,000 students here. And with the campus footprint we have, that would be a stretch and a half," he said.

Dixie State did get some relief from the 2005 Legislature with about $15 million for a new health science building. That department in particular has seen the strain of rising enrollments, Evans said.

A microbiology class, for example, saw a 371 percent increase in enrollment since 2000.

But even with the 78,000 additional square feet in the health sciences building -- to be completed in 2008 -- Evans said the sciences are still pressed for space to get their students through all the general science classes that are prerequisites to beginning a health science major like nursing or radiology.

"It gets upstaged by something else because it doesn't seem to be the priority in the state to fund just classrooms," she said.
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Old Posted Oct 18, 2006, 4:24 AM
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Thumbs up Brian Head approves resort expansion



Tushar Mountains, Southern Utah

Southern Utah's premiere ski resort town is expanding. The town of Brian Head recently approved a $3.7 million dollar Special Improvement District to help in the construction of the new resort, "The Summit at Brian Head."

Michael Jabara, owner and CEO of Brian Head Development Company says this year round luxury complex will bring a lot of growth to the area.

"This project is gonna, at build out, have 454 units, town homes and condos, and is designed to be the first all season luxury resort condominium complex in this town."

It will be the first in its kind in the sense that it will offer winter and summer outdoor activities, including access to hiking and skiing trails. Vertical construction of the complex will begin this spring with the first units delivered to buyers in late 2007.

The Summit is just one of several projects expected to double the size of Brian Head over the next three years.

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Old Posted Oct 18, 2006, 11:30 AM
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Post City toasts completion of St.George Blvd. beautification.

St. George plans party for boulevard reopening ceremony
By SCOTT DAVID JOHNSON
sjohnson@thespectrum.com

ST. GEORGE - The city will toast the results of 15 months and $15.4 million of work Friday in the official reopening of St. George Boulevard.

After several setbacks, the project has been completed on schedule and just in time for the start of the fall tourist season, said Myron Lee, of the Utah Department of Transportation.


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The road is now open to two lanes of traffic in both directions.

"This is the culmination of about six years worth of planning and design work, mixed up with 15 months of construction," Lee said.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony took place alongside Smith's Food and Drug Center at the corner of Bluff Street and St. George Boulevard. Speakers will include Mayor Daniel McArthur, UDOT Executive Director John Njord, Utah Sen. Bill Hickman and Rep. David Clark.

Following a breakfast provided by Smith's and entertainment from a classic rock band, a parade of classic cars will make a ceremonial first run up and down the boulevard.
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Old Posted Oct 18, 2006, 11:37 AM
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Post Water Walk, Town Square to honor St. George's past!!

Deseret News (Salt Lake City), by Nancy Perkins Deseret Morning News
ST. GEORGE -- A new look destined for Main Street is designed to capture old memories -- blending the charm of the historic with amenities of the present.

"This project celebrates the history of St. George," said city spokesman Marc Mortensen. "The city is investing a significant amount in the downtown heart of the city and the response has been very positive."

Design plans for the St. George Town Square and Historic Water Walk on Main Street, a nine-acre, $4.2 million project, were unveiled in early October. Funding for the major reconstruction effort is coming from redevelopment agency funds, said Mortensen.

"This whole thing has been a huge partnership between the city, school district and county," he said. "It's really a model for the rest of the state on how different government interests can work together for a common goal."

Major construction won't start until the spring of 2007, although crews should begin work on a nature park on the north end of Main Street at Brooks Pond this winter.
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Old Posted Oct 18, 2006, 11:41 AM
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Post St.George Golf courses just keep adding up!!


Stay Up On Everything Happening at The Ledges

The Ledges of St. George has become Southern Utah's most desirable golf community, one that is bustling with activity and excitement as it emerges amidst the striking strata of desert rock formations and expansive mountain vistas.

As the project moves forward, we'll be posting important and informative notices on this page - with links to announcements, press releases and timeline updates - so check back often.

The fun - and your future - is just beginning at The Ledges.

Go to www.Ledges.com

Jack Nicklaus Academy of Golf to be featured at The Ledges
St. George, Utah - The Ledges of St. George, Southern Utah's most exclusive golf community, and the prestigious Nicklaus Academies are pleased to announce an agreement that will bring the highest level of golf instruction to one of the nation's most awe-inspiring locations.


All Roads Lead to The Ledges
St. George, Utah - There is a great deal of excitement and activity on every front. The Ledges Golf Club has already received rave reviews from enthusiastic members who, since March, have been enjoying the stunning 7,200-yard championship course, created by world-class designer Matt Dye.

Nearly 200 Homesites

Last edited by delts145; Oct 20, 2006 at 3:21 PM. Reason: additional comment
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Old Posted Oct 19, 2006, 12:53 AM
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Old Posted Oct 20, 2006, 3:07 PM
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Golf just gets better.

golf just gets better

By Dick Harmon
Deseret Morning News

ST. GEORGE — Golf in this desert wonderland just took a step up by adding a caste system, if you will.
The new Ledges in Snow Canyon opened up a few month's ago, and its $3 million clubhouse is sleek and beautiful. Already selling memberships, the Ledges is headed toward privatization some day, so the pass for public use is right now.
Entrada, site of the women's Mountain West Conference championships , is by far the best manicured course in southern Utah since Troon management took over three years ago. It will absolutely be private in six months.
After Oct. 1, 2006, the only way to play Entrada is if you are a member, a guest of a member who is playing in your foursome, or if you buy a golf package that is part of the resort offering linked to staying at the Inns at Entrada, also under Troon management.
There is talk of adding another 18-hole course, possibly a Fazio design, right next to Entrada, as that property is headed for exclusivity and a destination golf atmosphere similar to stops in Scottsdale, Ariz. The $9 million clubhouse at Entrada is one of the classiest in the state. It oozes the look of money, big money.
The net result in St. George will be club atmospheres added to Bloomington Country Club, where golf has been locked out from outsiders. And, gulp, it will be expensive.
Why?
Because there is a market in this burgeoning community for a private golf club experience, now that closed-gate communities are popping up like jackrabbits. Upscale houses approaching a million dollars or more are being erected as fast as land is available in St. George, part of the migration from California through Las Vegas to the Beehive State. Most of the land is gone and now the property rush is headed up Snow Canyon and into Washington and Hurricane.
Joe Morris, manager of the Inns at Entrada, estimates the lavish cottages that line the No. 9 fairway will be filled with the elite top 5 to 10 percent of Entrada regulars who are sold on the atmosphere and golf.
Troon has poured money and time into Entrada. During wintertime, this is more than evident when compared to other Dixie courses. It isn't even close.
"There are plans for even more construction around the property, and we haven't even begun to market what we offer," Morris said.
Troon wouldn't sink the dough into Entrada at this rate unless there was a payoff coming, and population growth figures, mixed with projected economic indicators of who those new move-ins are and what they have to spend, clearly leads the way.
Coral Canyon is a popular golf stop in St. George, one that quickly found favor with the public and groups who book vacations through Golf Mesquite and Red Rocks Golf Trail. These are co-op groups that cater to the demand for desert golf during winter months, a ticket that's becoming hotter by the month.
The Ledges and Entrada are also part of those co-ops. But they are separating themselves right now.
The Ledges, a course linked to real estate development, has a sleepy front nine that sets the stage for a breathtaking back that borders red cliffs, buttes, washes and beautiful Snow Canyon. While the back needs some growth and time to fill out, the Ledges is in full operation and accepting all comers. There is talk of staging some UGA championships at the Ledges in the near future.
Ledges director of golf Coby Cowan reports club memberships are moving right along and there will come a time it will be private. If the model home just off the left side fairways of holes 11 and 12 is any indication of the expected neighborhood, it will be as upper class as anything this side of Las Vegas.
The bottom line is Utah is a bargain land for golf in terms of green fees and quality of courses, but there are some upper crust courses like Ledges and Entrada that will soon be beyond the reach of the ordinary player without a club-carrying ticket.
St. George. It's no longer just a place to stop for gas and snacks on the way to Vegas. And for golf? Now there are layers upon layers, with no end in sight.


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Old Posted Oct 20, 2006, 3:12 PM
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Dixie — Land rush: Historic growth setting records

Copyright 2006 Deseret Morning News
By Dave Anderton
Deseret Morning News

ST. GEORGE — Allan Carter will never forget the night he went back to the future.
Jason Olson, Deseret Morning NewsLike the rest of Washington County, Bloomington is growing rapidly. The county's population jumped 8 percent in the year ended June 30, 2005. It was August 1971 and Carter, a Brigham Young University student at the time, remembers dreaming that he was standing at the intersection of 300 West and St. George Boulevard in downtown St. George, looking across his native city and marveling at what he saw.
"I could see homes as far as I could see," Carter said. "Thousands of homes."
Back then, Washington County's population of 14,000 was roughly one-tenth of its current size. St. George was viewed as little more than a dusty stopover between Los Angeles and Salt Lake City. There were no gated communities, no million-dollar homes and certainly no traffic jams.
But the city was about to shake off its small-time status. And for Carter, whose dream convinced him to quit college and take over his father's St. George-based title company, the timing could not have been better.
Today, Washington County is the fastest-growing county in the state. With a growth rate of 8 percent for the 12 months ended June 30, 2005, the county ranks as the nation's fifth-fastest growing county, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
And this is no dream.
Land speculators, a wave of retiring baby boomers and second-home buyers are fueling the biggest real estate rush in the county's history, according to a report commissioned by the Deseret Morning News and prepared by James Wood, director of the University of Utah's Bureau of Economic and Business Research.
"In absolute terms there has been no period like the past three years in Washington County history," Wood said. "It's a frenzy. That's all anyone talks about is housing prices and how much money they have made."
Upscale gated communities like Entrada, Northbridge Estates, Stone Cliff and The Ledges offer million-dollar views with million-dollar price tags. In less than 25 years, more people will live in Washington County than in Weber County, according to the Governor's Office of Planning and Budget. By 2038, more than 600,000 people will live in Washington County, outnumbering those living in Davis County, according to Carter, who believes the state's population projections are too conservative.
Carter may be right.
In 2005, more residential building permits were issued in St. George than in any other Utah city, Wood said. About one in every seven new residential units built in Utah in 2005 was in Washington County, and that figure was one of every six in 2004.
Such explosive growth has caught the attention of Utah Republican Sen. Bob Bennett and Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson, who last week unveiled The Washington County Growth & Conservation Act of 2006. It would create a comprehensive plan for managing public lands in Washington County and preserve more than 219,000 acres in and near Zion National Park as wilderness.
Highlights of the proposal include selling around 25,000 acres of public land and using 15 percent of the proceeds for public education, water projects and fire and flood protection. The other 85 percent would be earmarked to preserve historic rangeland and vital watersheds, buy more land to protect endangered species and improve conservation efforts on numerous projects throughout the county.
All of which is designed to help manage growth for both longtime residents and newcomers, many of whom are no strangers to the Beehive State.
Perhaps surprisingly, roughly 51 percent of Washington County buyers in 2005 were from Utah, snowbirds seeking an escape from the long winter of the state's northern half, according to Southern Utah Title Co. Next were Californians, who made up 26 percent of all transactions. Nevada came in third at 10 percent, with other states making up 13 percent. They are people like Rocky Burt, 55, a former program analyst for the state of Alaska, who retired to Washington County three years ago after vacationing at Zion National Park.
In March, Burt and his wife moved into a new 3,700-square-foot home in Washington city. He said the $1.2 million home, complete with 22-foot-high ceilings, automated blinds, a courtyard, outdoor kitchen and two waterfalls, is a bargain compared to similar properties in Pismo Beach, Calif., where they originally looked to retire.
"We found the values here — especially for the quality of construction and what you get for your money here — to be far superior as to what you can get in California," Burt said. "We think we made the best choice."
About 80 percent of Washington County's growth comes from such in-migration, Wood said. In 2005, net in-migration for the county totaled 8,300 people. Only Salt Lake and Utah counties had more.
Mike Thomas, 58, of Budd Lake, N.J., purchased a building lot two years ago for $112,000 in Foremaster Ridge, which sits on East Bluff above the Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George.
Today, that same lot would sell for about $230,000, according to Doug Rogers, co-developer of the subdivision. Lots in the subdivision's newest phase are now selling for $340,000, with homes in the neighborhood valued as high as $2 million.
"We are probably 20 to 30 percent cheaper than the average view lot around the county," Rogers said. "I'm sure that over the next six months there could be some price raising. Any lot that is bought right now, my guess would be that they'll gain 20 to 30 percent over the next one to three years."
Soaring property values have made millions of dollars for people smart enough to buy at the right price and sell at the right time, according to Stephen Wade, who moved from Salt Lake City to St. George 14 years ago after purchasing a financially distressed car dealership.
Jason Olson, Deseret Morning NewsToday, the area is the fastest-growing in Utah and is expected to keep growing. Today, Wade owns five automobile franchises, six motorcycle franchises and the local television station. He also co-founded a local bank and is chairman of the board for Dixie State College.
"I look at some people here in St. George, and it's phenomenal what they've done with real estate," Wade said. "There is a certain element about real estate deals that is like gambling. It gets under your skin, and you want to do it. There is a frenzy that comes with it. You get excited as you do things."
Wade should know. He has made a small fortune from several of his own real estate deals. Currently, Wade and five other partners are developing a 20-acre piece of ground known as River Road Development, which will include restaurants, offices, a bank, hotel and a bridal shop.
"This whole region is on fire," Wade said. "It's not just St. George."
Yet it is St. George's lush golf courses, red-rock cliffs, vast recreational possibilities and proximity to national parks, monuments and Las Vegas that are attracting what Wood refers to as "equity refugees."
"That's what they call these people from California and Nevada," Wood said. "They bought a home in 1975 in Santa Monica for $110,000. It's now worth $800,000. They've paid it off. What they plan on doing is taking the money out and retiring."
Many equity refugees moving to Washington County are baby boomers, those born from 1946 to 1964. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 78.2 million baby boomers in the United States. And while only 23 percent of Utah's population is comprised of baby boomers, their numbers here are projected to grow.
Between 2005 and 2010 the number of Utahns over age 60 will grow twice as fast as those under 60, according to Wood, who added that boomers from California, Nevada and Arizona are now crucial to Washington County's market.
"I feel the wave has just begun as far as baby boomers moving to St. George," Burt said. "With the lifestyle and the prices, I just feel it's a great value that's really going to expand as the baby boomers retire. They are coming here from all over the country, and they are willing to dump a lot of money in here."
In 2004, about 55 percent of people in Washington County applying for Utah drivers' licenses were new residents from California, Nevada and Arizona.
"Every state except Massachusetts was represented," Wood said. "As baby boom demographics have converged with equity refugees and low interest rates, Sun Belt communities have benefited."
And with sustained economic fundamentals like job growth, in-migration and low interest rates, Wood believes the rush to Utah's Dixie is likely to continue. "It might plateau," Wood said, "but it's going to stay strong."
It's like something out of Carter's dream, as is the growth of his own company, which now employs 125 people.
"The dream convinced me that my spot was not in graduating but in coming to St. George," said Carter, 57.
"If you were here today, you would see a miracle. What's made it great is for me to look around and see my friends and my neighbors and realize that most of them had no connection to southern Utah."


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Contributing: Nancy Perkins
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Schmoe, Go to www.Ledges.com
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Old Posted Oct 20, 2006, 3:25 PM
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Health-care projects in southern Utah

Dixie Regional Medical Center expansion — Health care in Utah's Dixie took a major step forward less than three years ago when Intermountain Healthcare broke ground for a $100 million medical facility in St. George. IHC recently announced plans to add additional InstaCare Clinics in Cedar City, St. George and Hurricane, where a 20-acre parcel has been purchased for the expanded facility.
Dixie State College partners with IHC — A new Health Science Building will be constructed on the campus of Dixie Regional Medical Center on River Road. This joint venture between DSC and DRMC will boost the college's programs in nursing, surgical technician, medical radiography, dental hygiene and emergency medical technician.
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Old Posted Oct 21, 2006, 6:25 AM
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St. George job growth is No. 1 in the nation

By Nancy Perkins
Deseret Morning News
ST. GEORGE — Washington County's largest city continues to generate new jobs, beating out hundreds of other cities nationwide with a higher percentage in its job growth rate, according to a report issued by the U.S. Department of Labor. "I'm absolutely convinced if you have a pulse and you're not on drugs, you're a hot commodity," said Washington County economic development director Scott Hirschi. "I haven't talked to a single business that's not having a fair amount of trouble attracting employees and retaining them."
According to the April 2006 report, the largest over-the-year percentage increase in employment was reported in St. George at 8.5 percent. The increase in nonfarm payroll employment from April over April a year earlier was not seasonally adjusted and included reports from 467 metropolitan areas across the nation.
Of those metropolitan areas, 308 reported year-over increases, 49 recorded decreases and 10 had no change. The national unemployment rate in April was 4.5 percent, down from 4.9 percent a year earlier, according to the national report.
Utah's unemployment rate in April was 3.5 percent, with a 4.2 percent employment growth, according to a May 16 Department of Workforce Services news release.
DWS senior economist Mark Knold noted in the release that "the only groups having trouble in the current economic environment are some aspects of the business community who are not finding an abundant supply of skilled labor."
Utah southwest regional economist Lecia Parks Langston said the county's unemployment rate continues to drop, slipping below 3.1 percent in December to 2.7 percent in April.
That kind of job growth makes for a very tight labor market and is placing "upward pressure on wages" in Washington County, she said.
Hirschi said Washington County's low unemployment rate poses a significant challenge for current and prospective employers.
"I wouldn't be surprised if this didn't slow some expansion plans of existing businesses, but it hasn't been a huge problem (recruiting new clients) for me," he said. "It has certainly raised the eyebrows of my clients, though."
Employers are finding it not only hard to find enough qualified employees, but virtually any employee, Hirschi noted.
"There's no question that employers have had to pay more, probably 6 to 10 percent increase in wages over the last 12 to 18 months," he said. "The challenge that employers are having to one degree or another is good news for employees. Employees are much more in the driver's seat right now."


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