With prices skyrocketing, where will St. George’s resort workers live?

Black Desert Resort developers say they are “quite well advanced” in finding ways to develop off-resort accommodation that is financially accessible to workers.

(Black Desert Resort) Construction of resort space at Black Desert Resort in Ivins is underway.

Ivin’s • A few years from now, once construction on the Black Desert Resort is complete — reported in a recent Salt Lake Tribune article — developers of the $2 billion mega-golf, shopping and hospitality mecca, located in… Ivin takes the form, face a dilemma.

While the hotels and condos at the 630-acre southern Utah resort will ultimately provide more than 3,330 living spaces for its guests, there will be no homes or apartments for its employees on-site. Also, there is little room at the inn or elsewhere in the St. George metropolitan area for residents who want to live and work in the area — especially not at affordable rates.

Patrick Manning, managing partner of Black Desert Resort, acknowledges that this presents a challenge, especially as he and other members of his development team plan to hire 2,500 people to staff the entertainment complex.

This challenge is underscored by a recent report from Atwood Innovation Plaza, which found that a full-time Washington County worker must earn at least $20.21 an hour to be able to afford an average two-bedroom apartment without exceeding 30% of his income. Unfortunately, hourly wages for workers in the St. George area are less than $15 an hour.

“We’re really interested at the city, regional and state level in finding affordable housing solutions because we have to,” Manning said. “We are part of the creation of the problem, so we have to create a solution.

To that end, Manning said developers are “quite well advanced” in finding off-resort housing that is financially achievable for workers, though he’s not yet ready to announce where the homes will be or other details.

Aside from plans to develop lower-cost housing, Black Desert already offers a home for the Utah Tech University golf team. Manning said the resort leases land to the university, which will have a short-game golf course, a clubhouse with lockers and a game room at the resort.

“There isn’t an NCAA golf team in the country that has a resort-style PGA course as its home,” he said. [Utah Tech golfers] “should be able to attract any visiting team they want.”

Read more about Black Desert, which developers say will be Utah’s largest resort and city and state officials say will transform southern Utah’s tourism landscape.

Justin Scaccy

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