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Redevelopment Director Dick Bradford wants residents and developers alike to catch the vision of what the area between 9400 and 11400 South from I-15 to State Street can become - and now he can show them a model.

The city's new Economic Development Center, housed at South Towne Center, opened Thursday with politicians, city staffers and guests on hand to make it official.The office's main attraction is a model of the area surrounding the shopping mall, with dozens of office buildings and other, as yet mostly imaginary, developments neatly arrayed.

Mayor Steve Newton had the original vision of the area's potential, Bradford said. And in the recent mayoral race, the man who defeated Newton, former Mayor Larry Smith, quickly adopted Newton's campaign theme of this area someday becoming the downtown of the entire south valley.

The new office will help both the city and the mall realize that dream, Bradford said. The mall's owners will be able to woo prospective tenants by showing them concretely what developments are planned for the area, and the location will give new exposure to the city's development efforts.

Bradford and Newton praised the mall's owners for making the 834 square feet of space available to the city for two years at $1 per year. Normally, the space would cost about $18 per square foot, said mall manager Neil Rollins.

If at the end of the two years South Towne needs the space, it may move the office into other available space, Rollins said. And Bradford said the city has also talked with other developers about possibly moving into one of their future projects. "We may be transient in our location," moving from space to space as the area grows, he said.

Bradford's operation will be small at first - his total staff will consist of himself. He hopes in next year's budget to get a full-time receptionist/sec-retary. He currently has a part-time secretary, but she'll be staying at City Hall for the time being.

But Bradford will get some help before next July from volunteers from the Sandy Area Chamber of Commerce. He hopes to have the office open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and possibly also on weekends, with volunteers on hand to answer questions and pass out literature.

Bradford said he looks forward not only to running the city's Redevelopment Agency out of the new office but also to functioning as an economic development ombudsman for the city. Being housed away from the regulators at City Hall will help him perform that function by giving him a more independent image as he assists developers through the city's approval processes, he explained.