About a half-dozen businesses have closed in the city's downtown area near Lakeside Square in the past five months, reflecting a trend toward growth on the north and south while the city center experiences an increasing number of vacancies.

Hardee's, 7-Eleven, Flying J, JB's Restaurant and Buy-N-Save Grocery Outlet have closed in the central city, leaving empty buildings.Sprouse Reitz, Domino's, the Fabric Shop and the Pizza Bakery also closed recently in Clearfield.

Baskin-Robbins in Lakeside Square is still operating, but a current classified advertisement lists it for sale.

"We're such a small commercial area," H. Kay Chandler, Clearfield economic director, said, explaining that the trend away from the city center is continuing.

Chandler said Skippers Seafood and Chowder House, currently at 350 S. State and across from Lakeside Square, will soon be moving to 650 North, near the west gate of Hill Air Force Base. This will leave another vacant building.

Each business that moved has had its own reason, Chandler said. Hardee's closed because the company didn't want to compete with the new Layton Hardee's, while Flying J is concentrating on full service truck stops instead of convenience stores. 7-Eleven is eliminating all stores that lack gasoline pumps.

Chandler said he's also working to get the former Buy-N-Save/Smith's store reoccupied. However, the Pioneer Adult Rehabilitation Center (PARC), operated by the Davis School District, is hoping to purchase the old building - the largest of the vacant buildings in the center of Clearfield - for $800,000.

PARC needs a conditional use permit to operate in the old Smith's building, and a public hearing by the Clearfield Planning Commission will be April 8, 7:05 p.m., in the City Council chambers to discuss the matter.

Since PARC is a tax-exempt organization, the city would prefer it didn't occupy such a prime business location. However, Clearfield appears to have no legal way to stop PARC if it gets approval from the Planning Commission.

But there is some good economic news for Clearfield. The former JB's building will reopen in April as The Old Galveston Seafood Restaurant. Chandler also said several prospective tenants are looking at the old Flying J and Hardee's buildings.

In other Clearfield business news, Kraft Foods is expanding its building in the Freeport Center by more than 35,000 square feet and will be adding more than 100 new jobs.

A manufacturing company, which Chandler said he can't yet identify by name, will build at 559 South Main. That property was rezoned to M-1 on March 24 to accommodate the company.

South Pointe Shopping Center, located on the south end of the city, is also another economic oasis. The center is anchored by Tom Winegar's Thriftway and also includes a satellite office of America First Credit Union. Thriftway is expected to add as much as $100,000 annually to the city's sales-tax coffers.

Layton Office Supply, currently located in Layton's Antelope Square, is building a new home just south of Thriftway. There's some irony to this move since some time ago, Clearfield Electronics moved from the area to Layton. It now goes by the name of Clearfield-Layton Electronics.

When Layton Office Supply moves, it will nearly even the exchange score. It's not known yet whether the company's name will change to reflect its new home.

One other new tenant headed for South Pointe is Fezzwiggs Hamburgers, a drive-through fast food outlet.

Clearfield's current strategy is to attract new business without suggesting where they should locate. The Clearfield Chamber of Commerce has also been revised and is adding businesses from surrounding communities to its membership.

- Not even Layton, Davis County's boom town, is immune to vacant business buildings. The Layton Office Supply will be at least temporarily vacant. When a Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet under construction near Wal-Mart opens, the KFC outlet at 734 S. Main, near the Kaysville border, will close. Also, the 7-Eleven at the south end of Fort Lane in Layton closed this week and is boarded up. The 7-Eleven had gasoline pumps.