After years of unsuccessful efforts to lure a big corporate anchor to its West Ridge Commerce Park, the city Thursday was forced to choose between two firms vying for the same parcel.

In the end, the City Council selected Frito-Lay Inc.'s $45 million food processing plant over Matrixx Inc.'s 1,500-employee tele-mar-ket-ing service center.However, City Manager John Patterson said the city hopes to accommodate Matrixx at an alternative site of "equal or greater value" closer to 5600 West. Located at 4700 S. 6400 West, West Ridge is the city's buffer zone around Hercules Aerospace.

According to Patterson, it makes more sense to place industrial operations like Frito-Lay's plant nearer to Hercules and use the land closer to major roadways for office and commercial facilities.

Despite those arguments, Matrixx preferred the same 48-acre parcel next to Hercules that Frito-Lay wanted. A subsidiary of Cincinnati Bell, Matrixx announced last year that it would consolidate some of its scattered telemarketing operations at the new West Valley location, which it picked over sites in Sandy and Arizona.

Frito-Lay said it intends to employ about 150 people at the food-processing plant, with plans to expand operations within five years. Salt Lake City had considered bidding for the Frito-Lay plant but decided against it because of the burden it would place on its water reclamation system.

West Valley officials said the Central Valley Water Reclamation Plant has the capacity to treat the food-processing waste.

Asked why the city would prefer an industrial operation over the "clean industry" offered by Matrixx, Patterson said it wasn't a question of picking one and rejecting the other. The competition for the site came down to which company was willing to offer the firmest commitments, as well as which was most suitable for that location, he said.

According to Patterson, Frito-Lay best fit the bill because it needed access to the railroad spur adjacent to the parcel. "Their location was fixed; Matrixx could move."

He conceded, however, that Matrixx may not be willing to move. "We haven't heard back from them yet," Patterson said, adding, "We would like to have them up there."

Ed Eynon, Matrixx's director of human resources and quality, expressed disappointment Friday with the prospect of West Valley "not following through with the original plans for the site."

He said the firm is considering a number of options, including finding a new home elsewhere. "We're not ruling anything out," he said.

Frito-Lay has agreed in writing to build its 200,000-square-foot plant on a 20-acre parcel at the site and is expected to obtain first right of refusal on adjacent land for future use. Patterson said the offer includes assurances to the city that the tax-increment potential on the property will be covered by the company.