An artist's rendering of the Eastgate at Greyhawk apartments at State Road 193 and Church Street in Layton

If all goes as planned, excavation will begin this week for construction of Layton’s first apartment complex east of Interstate 15 in the past 12 years.

So says Kaysville-based developer Gardner Crane, who has been a partial owner of the 5-acre East Layton parcel near Church Street and Highway 193 for the past seven years. Well-positioned near Hill Air Force Base, schools, shopping and restaurants, Crane is optimistic about the $10 million project’s viability.

“We always planned to do high-end apartments,” Crane said, “but the market hasn’t justified it until this new economy arrived.”

Teaming with Michael Schultz, owner of Roy-based Castle Creek Homes, Crane is eager to get started on the eight-building project that will take about 18 months to complete.

“We have a broad target market,” Crane said, “of empty-nesters, single parents, newlyweds and young professionals,” anyone but a large traditional family that needs more than three bedrooms.

Today’s ailing economy and tightened credit climate have made it increasingly difficult for people to obtain home mortgage loans, thus increasing demand for attractive rental housing.

According to the National Association of Home Builders, foreclosure rates have slowed but new single-family home sales have remained consistently low since the first of the year. And existing home sales have continued to decline.

Bob Springmeyer is president of Bonneville Research, a Salt Lake City-based consulting firm. From January to July, Davis County issued 797 housing permits, Springmeyer said; 405 of them for multifamily units.

Of that number, 333 of the multifamily projects were in Farmington and five in Layton.

“Davis County is a jewel that is waiting to be developed,” Springmeyer said. “I’ve always thought there was extraordinary opportunity for commercial, entrepreneurial and flex space there.”

For years, many of the county’s residents have commuted to neighboring Weber or Salt Lake counties to work. But that scenario is beginning to change.

For example, Clearfield is home to the new 600,000-square-foot ATK facility that will build composite aircraft parts and over several years add up to 800 new jobs.

“Since January, Davis County has added 5,713 jobs to our labor force,” said Kent Sulser, Davis County’s community and economic development director.

The county’s unemployment rate hovers around 7 percent, about two percentage points below the national average. And Sulser attributes Davis’ favorable position to balanced land use and valuable public-private partnerships.

“We have worked diligently and closely with local communities to promote and preserve land sites for future developments,” Sulser said.

As a result, thousands of Davis County acres have been rezoned, Sulser said, and five large mixed-use projects are under construction: Falcon Hill, East Gate, Farmington Station, Park Lane Commons and Legacy Crossing.