Good things take time, and for Spanish Fork officials, nothing exemplifies that more than the Canyon Creek development.
For those who have noticed seemingly massive amounts of construction going on at the intersection of Interstate 15 and U.S. Highway 6, it’s the culmination of a commercial development that has been more than a decade in the works.
Woodbury Corp. and its partner, WPI Enterprises, announced Thursday via press release that 245,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space will be added to the Canyon Creek Shopping Center, including up to 45 new retail tenants upon completion.
Businesses that have been confirmed include big names like Cinemark, DownEast Home, Ulta Beauty, Famous Footwear, Petco and Ross, the press release stated.
Several other businesses are currently being communicated with, said Amanda Butterfield, public relations director for Woodbury, but cannot be formally announced.
The final project will eventually include over 1 million square feet of retail and commercial space, the release said, including 65 acres for a hospital and health care space.
Spanish Fork began working with Woodbury more than 10 years ago on the 240-acre, mixed-use development. But progress on what is hoped to soon be a major commercial, entertainment and dining hub took much longer than originally planned.
The recession in 2008 set the project back, with many major retailers, including Home Depot, Target and Chili’s, pulling out for financial reasons.
But with the addition of Wal-Mart and Costco to the site within the last few years, and several more big-name businesses signing leases, Spanish Fork will soon be seeing Canyon Creek take shape.
“It hasn’t gone as fast as I would have liked to see it go,” said Spanish Fork Mayor Steve Leifson, who was on the City Council when the city and the developer first started talking. “But that’s part of the economy. We are excited to see the growth that’s coming.”
Typically, when a city makes as many investments into surrounding infrastructure, like roads, development follows fairly quickly, said Dave Anderson, city planner.
“Just because of the recession, that hasn’t been the case,” Anderson said. “It’s been a little bit frustrating, but we’re finally getting to a point where things are happening.”
Ross and Petco are already under construction next to Wal-Mart, Anderson said, as is a new road across from Wal-Mart that will provide the main access to the theater and shops that will go in.
Anderson said he’s excited to be starting a phase of the development that will bring more sit-down restaurants to complement the array of fast-casual eateries currently available in the area.
“We have heard for years and years that that seems to be what people are the most about is to be able to dine here in Spanish Fork instead of having to drive to Orem or maybe Provo,” Anderson said.
According to Woodbury’s press release, many of the new stores will be completed and open for business by this fall.
“If everything goes well, there may be 200,000 square feet of retail space open by Black Friday,” Anderson said.
The “creek” of Canyon Creek is currently little more than a trickle of water running through a ditch. But, Anderson said, the plans of the developer will turn the creek into a visual commodity that complements outdoor eating options. It will also include a 2.5-mile trail loop around the development.
“I think this could be the kind of place where people just get accustomed to spending a lot of time,” Anderson said. “That was another thing we had really hoped for here at the city.”
Spanish Fork has invested in infrastructure to accommodate Canyon Creek, including expanding 400 East and 1000 North. Spanish Fork Parkway, Marketplace Drive and Canyon Creek Parkway are just a few of the road projects that the city has tackled to help make access to the planned development easier from surrounding communities.
“The city, with roads and infrastructure, and the things we’ve helped out with there, for me is the best scenario for a public-private partnership,” said Councilman Mike Mendenhall. “We can go in and help with infrastructure, and what comes later is one of the largest commercial and retail developments.”
The development currently includes Costco, Wal-Mart, Good Earth, Ace and approximately 148,000 square feet of other food, banking and retail tenants, according to the press release.
For Spanish Fork residents, access to a theater, sit-down restaurants and more stores has been long waited for, as the town has burgeoned from a population of 20,000 in 2000, to 38,000 in 2015.
Spanish Fork’s only movie theater, the Water Gardens Spanish Fork 8 movie theater complex, closed in September, leaving residents in a position of having to travel to nearby towns to watch movies.
“You’ll get a first-rate theater,” Mendenhall said, referring to Cinemark. “People are excited to stay in town, and not have to travel on the freeway for that sort of stuff.”
But even beyond people who currently live in the city, Mendenhall said people in southern areas like Price and Nephi will be able to take advantage of the increased shopping and dining opportunities as well.
“Obviously the residents will love what’s being added there with the theater, retail shopping and restaurants,” Mendenhall said. “But I think we’ll see a whole lot of out-of-town people love it as well.”
His wife, he said, is excited not to have to travel to Orem to shop at Ulta, and the new retail should keep many other people shopping in town as well.
Allowing locals to dine and shop in town, and bringing in out-of-towners to do the same, will be a financial benefit to Spanish Fork as a city, Mendenhall said.
“A lot of things we now feel we have to travel outside of city limits for, we no longer will,” Mendenhall said.
Mendenhall said that some of the businesses on Spanish Fork Main Street may even start staying open later, as a theater encourages people to stay out later at night.
“We envision Canyon Creek Commercial Center as a central hub for economic activity in south and central Utah County,” said Jeff Woodbury, senior vice president of development and acquisitions for Woodbury Corp., in the release.
The additional growth will create demand for even more road and intersection updates, Mendenhall said, which the city will keep on the “front burner” as the development continues to grow and attract more people to the area.