FARMINGTON -- The tenants for the future Shepard Creek Towne Center aren't signed up yet. But, if the developer of the 240,000-square-foot "upscale" mall has his way, Davis County shoppers will one day be able to GAP, Ann Taylor, Bombay Co. and Borders to their hearts' content.

Wednesday night, the Farmington City Council gave its unanimous approval to rezoning 23.1 acres south of Shepard Lane and west of U.S. 89 from "office/ business" to "general commercial" use, clearing the way for the new Shepard Creek Towne Center.The city must still approve a site plan for the project, which has not been finalized.

Kent Buie, managing member of Shepard Creek Properties, said he hopes to break ground for the project in spring or early summer and have a grand opening in August or September of 2000.

"There's very little between downtown Salt Lake City and the Layton Hills Mall, and Farmington is an excellent strategic location," said Buie.

"It's going to be more convenient for people from Bountiful to come north instead of going to downtown Salt Lake, and it will also be easy for people to come down from the north because 89 and I-15 flow to us."

Along with upscale national brand name specialty retailers, Buie also hopes to attract some compatible restaurants to Shepard Creek. Depending on which version of a site plan he finally opts for, the project may also include a large department store and some office space, he said.

"We want a project that's well done, and that is something Mr. Buie has shown he is capable of doing," said Mayor Greg Bell.

Elevations for the project depict elegant rows of one- and two-story shops in a style that evokes the early 20th century with allusions to Beaux-Arts and Prairie styles.

"I'm really excited about this project," said Cindy Roybal, a Farmington resident. "Everyone I've talked to thinks it's a good idea."

The decision to make the Towne Center an upscale development was influenced by marketing studies done for Shepard Creek Properties by Thomas Consultants of Vancouver, Canada, Buie said.

Shepard Creek Properties, in association with Excel Legacy Corp., acquired the tract near the convergence of I-15 and U.S. 89 in 1996 looking to develop it into an office park, said the developer.

"Then we realized it would take up to 10 years to fill 600,000 square feet, and people began to approach us about commercial space," he said.

After a "tremendous" residential expansion, Davis County has been lagging in developing commercial facilities, said Buie."We're catching up."

Although a development like Shepard Creek Towne Center is justified by the area's current population, said Buie, he also expects the project to benefit from additional residential growth in the future.