A Smithfield-based developer is four years into a plan to build an $80 million horse-sports complex in a small Idaho town, north of Logan. He calls it “The Horse Station at Cache Valley.”
Plans call for a sports and commercial complex anchored by equestrian activities. It will include a hotel, condominiums, retail sites, two indoor arenas, a cultural element like a museum and an equine hospital.
“It is a big project,” said Master Developer Ernest Bleinberger. “In some respects we’re going to be developing an entire town that expands upon the existing city of Franklin. Things are going well; nothing happens as quickly as we would like it to. We make headway every day and are looking forward to an active summer and fall season.”
Bleinberger said years ago he was hired to do a feasibility study for a year round, multi-purpose equestrian complex. The complex was done under a USDA grant, sponsored by Franklin County.
“I had been approached by a group of folks from Preston with this vision of a year round facility with indoor arenas and that sort of thing. So the project had its grassroots support from Franklin County; that’s one reason why it’s evolved in the place that it has.”
Bleinberger is affiliated with Strategy 5 LLC, an economic development firm which acquired 167 acres of property in Franklin, Idaho, just a mile north of the Idaho-Utah state line.
“As a development team we’re not building every single structure of that $80 million capital investment. We have master planned the property, we’ve subdivided it and we’ve platted it. The business plan has always been to sell primarily commercial lots that have been subdivided. Then, the end users will build the buildings.
“We will maintain the ownership of acreage required for the equestrian facilities themselves. And we will be building those. Right now it is about attracting quite a range of synergistic businesses to the project. That’s what makes the wheel turn.”
Bleinberger admits selling the commercial lots isn’t moving as quickly as he would like.
“We have a lot of interest and we are trying to convert that interest into some hard contracts. One of the challenges we face is the notion of who is going to be the first one in the pool, so to speak. We expect to be moving forward with several contracts in the next couple of months.”
He said the first major event is planned for the end of June. What he calls the “First annual youth roping day” will be <span class=”aBn”><span class=”aQJ”>June 27</span></span>.
“It will be a combination of a roping clinic and a formal roping competition. We will have entertainment and celebrities and vendors.”