Santaquin residents celebrated an event at least 10 years in the making on Monday — the construction of the city’s first grocery store.

Mayor Kirk Hunsaker became emotional as he spoke before the ceremonial turning of the dirt about finally seeing the grocery store happen for the city after years of waiting, joking that the only other thing he waited so long for was for his wife to agree to marry him.

“To finally have it happening, it’s just — I can’t say enough exciting words about this,” Hunsaker said.

The Santaquin Market, part of Associated Foods Group and independently-owned by Terrel Seely, will be the anchor store on a 32-acre lot that will become a commercial district. Besides providing a needed convenience for around 14,000 Santaquin residents, the store will increase revenue for the city through sales and property tax, revenue which is needed as the city continues to grow.

“We are growing so rapidly for our community by more than 200 homes a year now, and that’s growing exponentially,” said Ben Reeves, Santaquin city manager. “We see this as really becoming an identity for our community.”

In addition to the grocery store, Reeves said the community hopes to have a local high school built in the years to come.

“That’s when the community coalesces and we no longer become a bedroom community to other neighboring townships,” Reeves said. “So we’re hoping for a bright future with continued growth.”

Both Reeves and Hunsaker emphasized they want to bring local businesses to the commercial development and support them. Hunsaker in particular warned residents that it would be up to them to see the success of local businesses.

“We need to shop here,” Hunsaker said. “If a business struggles, it is our fault.”

To better support the store and give residents access from all sides, Associated Foods Group and the site owner are coordinating efforts to build a new road, 200 North. The road was a big hurdle for the project, according to Reeves, as the project cost is around $800,000. Santaquin will foot half the bill, with the developers covering the rest.

Steve Miner, president of market development in the real estate department of Associated Food Stores, estimated the market, which will be a full-service grocery store first with a hardware store added on later, will add between 100-150 jobs.

“It’s a place for your family and your kids to be able to grow up and have work near their home and be able to support the community,” Miner said. “Dollars now that are leaving the community ... those dollars can go to support the infrastructure of the city here locally.”

Reeves said the city has been paving the way for development for several years now, with the widening of Main Street several years ago and the addition of a signal light, followed by three more Main Street expansions.

“We give credit to our elected leaders for their vision and foresight,” he said.

Hunsaker finished his remarks by promising Santaquin residents that he and the other elected officials would continue to plan for the city’s best interests.

“The future of the city of Santaquin is bright.”

Carley Porter covers northern Utah County and business for the Daily Herald. She can be reached at cporter@heraldextra.com.

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