Mall site procedure trudges on
Feb 01, 2018 11:41AM
● By Aspen Perry
Mall site along Arbor Lane where the field caught fire over the summer. (Aspen Perry/City Journal).
By Aspen Perry | [email protected]
The Holladay City Planning Commission voted 5-1 to deny the proposal by Ivory Development and Woodbury Corp. to redevelop the old Cottonwood Mall Site. The controversial topic will next have a public hearing at the Feb. 1 city council meeting.
Improvements on the initial plan submitted by Ivory and Woodbury in regards to the Cottonwood Mall redevelopment were aplenty during planning commission meetings held in early January.
Whether those improvements will be enough to satisfy some of the development’s harshest critics remains to be seen.
“We like the incorporation of green space, although we’d like to see more,” said Timothy Schimandle, Holladay resident with Holladay Citizens for Responsible Development (HRCD).
In response to recommendations proposed by the planning commission during December meetings, the development plan now includes a little over an acre of open green field space. This addition increased the proposed landscaping and open space to anywhere between 11 and 15.41 acres.
Directly across from the open green space, an event plaza has been proposed, which includes a permanent community gathering space, with the potential to expand for special events. During festival events the space can be made larger by blocking the street to prohibit parking, similar to how Park City blocks Main Street from parking during various events.
Once widened, the event space would be comparable to the size of the University of Utah football field, as shown via slides by Ivory Development.
In an effort to address concerns regarding the height of the office and commercial buildings, developers showed commissioners a rendering of tiered buildings set further into the development, which would be less obtrusive than buildings going seven to eight stories straight up. One building is proposed to be 136 feet tall. Though developers explained that height includes roof mechanics which are rarely visable, making the viewable height closer to 116 feet.
“We like that the latest rendition set the taller building back from the road,” said Schimandle.
However, as much as HRCD appreciates the proposed plan improvements, there is still concern.
During recent correspondence, Schimandle wrote HRCD hoped to see the developers lower the building height down to 60 feet. Considering the site is currently zoned for building heights of 90 feet, it’s a request that may be unfeasible, though HCRD would still like it to be considered.
“Many residents move to Holladay from Salt Lake to escape buildings just like this,” Schimandle noted.
Density was another looming concern, and in addition to requesting office and retail space be spanned across, instead of going up, HCRD supporters have strongly urged for larger lot residential dwellings, citing small lots did not fit in with Holladay’s current residential model.
Though a change in the residential lot sizes would not change the various scenarios presented regarding the density of the mixed-use portion of the project, Chris Gamvroulas, president of Ivory Development did want to clear up confusion of the various mixed-use scenarios presented.
During the Jan. 16 commission meeting, Gamvroulas hoped to clear up such confusion by explaining if the commercial portion was larger, that would result in a decrease of apartments, and vice versa within the mixed-use area. Whereas some staff and residents were under the impression 1,268 units would also mean 600,000 square feet of office/retail space.
“We’ve been saying all along those (scenarios) would flex, but we haven’t done a good enough job of explaining that, and it’s caused some concerns at the staff level and in the community,” Gamvroulas said during his Jan. 16 address to the council.
Proposed in the updated SDMP, scenario one consists of 110,000 square feet of commercial/office (c/o) and 1,268 units. Scenario two consists of 300,000 square feet (c/o) and 1,078 units. Scenario three consists of 450,000 square feet (c/o) and 928 units, with scenario four proposing 600,000 square feet (c/o) and 778 units.
While the fourth scenario does encompass the largest portion of commercial space that could be envisioned, Matt Woodbury from Woodbury Corporation felt scenario three would be more realistic if the building height being proposed was not possible.
“I think we could still hit scenario four, in terms of commercial massing, but as we knock down height and have to rethink how we can push more office around the site, we are going to probably wind up somewhere around scenario three,” said Woodbury.
Commissioner Alyssa Lloyd felt the development was still too residential focused. Even with the feeling that development is residential heavy, Lloyd did note more retail was likely not the most realistic vision. However, she expressed concern with the lack of flexibility in the residential zone of the proposal.
To account for the community’s resistance to the number of single-family lots, Lloyd suggested a compromise on both parts would be for the developer to remove some of the single-family portion of the plan, at which point the public would need to be more accommodating to allowing another 90-foot tower to go in its place.
“The community needs to give, you need to give, and some of that give might have to come in forms of less single-family housing, and then the community is going to have to say, we’ll take another 90-foot-tall building,” Lloyd said.
Woodbury said because the land is not ideal for retail or office space, due to location, part of the residential component is to build a viable “epicenter.”
“When we start making it more generic, it becomes less marketable,” said Woodbury.
Concerns over building height and residential space were less worrisome for commissioner Jan Bradshaw. She understood the height was necessary to attract a quality tenant to fill the office space, which would bring in better shops and restaurants.
All of which makes for quite the conundrum, as some residents prefer no building height above 60 feet, while others find the possibility of a generic space even less palatable.