CENTERVILLE -- Plans for a new $18 million to $20 million Centerville Gateway commercial center with offices, restaurants and retail space were unveiled during an open house at City Hall Monday.

If all goes as planned, the Woodbury Corp. will pay the city $3 million for a 12-acre site north of Parrish Lane at I-15 and spend $18 million to $20 million to develop 140,000 square feet of office space, 10,000 to 13,000 square feet of specialty retail space, and three restaurants in 15,000 square feet over the next three to five years."This is a very signal enterprise for our city, and we want to do it right," said Mayor Frank Hirschi. The city chose Woodbury over four other developers who responded to a request for proposals because its plan "had the balance that we wanted in terms of (proposed) uses and overall aesthetics," Hirschi said.

"Gateway appeal was high on our agenda, and this (plan) had by far the best," said Councilman Ron Russell, who liked Woodbury's scheme for "dramatic" reflecting pools and extensive landscaping at the project's entrance.

Centerville officials also said it was important the proposed Gateway Center complement rather than compete with the Centerville Market Place directly to the south. High on the city's list of priorities were office space and sit-down restaurants. Currently, all but one of the restaurants in the Market Place are fast-food establishments.

Before the deal is finalized, the city and the developer must work out an agreement over the next 60 days. One item still to be negotiated is how much tax increment support for project infrastructure the city will provide.

Woodbury Corp. owns and manages $300 million in offices, shopping centers and hotels in Utah, including University Mall in Orem and the 500,000-square-foot Utah Valley Business Park in American Fork.

Lynn Woodbury, vice president of development and architecture for Woodbury Corp., said, "Office space is beginning to be overbuilt in some areas of the Wasatch Front, but there's not a lot of office space in Centerville.

"There is still a high rate of growth here and in Weber County," said Woodbury. With congestion increasing, people are looking for suburban locations in which to work and shop with less distance to drive, he said.

The proposed Centerville Gateway center is the third major commercial facility to be announced in south Davis County in the past two months. In December, plans for Shepard Creek Towne Center, a 240,000-square-foot upscale mall in north Farmington, were unveiled. And in January, the new owners of Five Points Mall in Bountiful announced a $20 million to $30 million mixed-use redevelopment and expansion of the 17-acre facility, including a new 65,000-square-foot sports mall.

Developers are betting on success by bringing attractive business and retail space to an area they see as underserved where purchasing power is on the rise.

"South Davis County has been the stepchild of the whole Wasatch Front. . . . For the last 40 years, it's not been a good area for retail," said Stephen R. Gilmore, one of the partners who is redeveloping Five Points. But, "some people are now beginning to understand the trade area dynamics," he said.

In Bountiful, the proliferation of upscale subdivisions on the Wasatch foothills and the influx of younger families means greater purchasing power, said Gilmore.

"There are opportunities here," Woodbury agreed.

Wilf Sommerkorn, director of community and economic development for Davis County, said the new developments are "definitely a good thing. Davis County is tax poor. We don't have a lot of commercial or industrial properties, and that's been detrimental to our school district. Anything we can do other than residential helps the tax base here."

Sommerkorn said new office space has the potential to create some good-paying jobs, and this is especially welcome.

The sale of the Gateway parcel, once the site of the nine-acre Old City Park, drew some protests from residents last year but no objections were raised at Monday's open house. Centerville officials have said they will use the proceeds from the sale to buy additional park land and fund other capital projects. A week ago, the city announced it was obtaining options on 11 acres of land for future parks.