Canyon Centre DevelopmentMar 01, 2018 10:38AM ● By Cassie Goff
Over the past few years, there has been an empty lot in Cottonwood Heights that was once the Racquet Club. The lot is surrounded by Wasatch Boulevard to the east, Fort Union Boulevard to the north, Racquet Club Drive to the west and Macintosh Lane to the southwest. In this space, a new road has been added: Canyon Centre Parkway. This is indicative of the new 11-acre development called the Canyon Centre.
Overall, the Canyon Centre Development will include a three-story parking structure with public parking, a 65,000-square-foot office building, a 125-unit hotel, a 17-lot single-family development, a multifamily housing development, multiple restaurants, an internal park, multiple plazas and room for retail space when desired. This development has been planned in three phases.
“The first phase is broken into three parcels,” said Community and Economic Development Director Brian Berndt.
Phase 1 includes the Master Development Plan, a parking structure for public parking and a professional office building. The parking structure will have three stories of underground parking, while providing a foundation for the office building and hotel. The office building development plan includes a bridge, which would connect to the hotel. However, the city is still waiting for a development plan from the hotel developers. If the design is approved with the bridge, it will provide a “continuous connection through the buildings,” Berndt said.
Phase 1 was approved in March 2014 and involves 5.853 acres of the overall site. Out of those roughly 5 acres, 1.73 acres will be open space, 1.6 acres will have landscape coverage and 1.9 acres will be building coverage.
Phase 2 includes a 17-lot single-family development (referred to as the Canyon Centre Court), a 112-unit multifamily building (referred to as Canyon Centre Heights) and a restaurant and distillery named Dugala. The Canyon Centre Court has already been built by David Weekley Homes. Canyon Centre Heights, the multifamily housing development, will include a separate parking entrance for underground parking, roof gardens, multiple patios, central green space and a courtyard. Dugala will be a restaurant and distillery with outside patio space. The concept is similar to High West Distillery. The owners of Dugala are eager to begin development as they have been waiting five years to get started.
Phase 2 was originally approved in January 2015. In August of 2016, Canyon Centre Court submitted plans for revised architecture, which was approved by the planning commission in September 2016.
Phase 3 includes a standalone restaurant called Bambu, which was approved in April 2016. The restaurant will provide surface parking for customers. “The building is built but it’s not yet open,” Berndt said.
Within the Canyon Centre Development Plan there is room for a public park. Cottonwood Heights City will own and plan the park. The city council and staff have been adamant on maintaining ownership of the park to provide residents with more open space. It will be a 1-acre park in the center of the development. “There is no requirement for what we want to put in it,” City Manager John Park said.
As the Canyon Centre plans begin to take shape, many residents have expressed concern regarding increased traffic, building elevation and public funds.
Creating height restrictions for the site has been a bit of an undertaking for city staff. “The land has been altered so many different times,” Senior Planner Mike Johnson said.
The many alterations to the site and the significant slope of the land made finding original grade challenging. City planners identified the approved elevation for the former Racquet Club in county records and worked from there. They used that elevation and average measurements from all four corners of the lot to set a “zero point” from which developers could work. The agreed upon original grade is about 40 feet below the grade of Wasatch Boulevard.
Developers are only allowed to expand three stories above the set zero point. However, since the land slopes significantly, this creates a specific design challenge. If the buildings have a large footprint, they have to accommodate the slope. “The portions of the buildings that are below grade do not count as a story,” Johnson explained.
When looking at the development plans, the tops of the buildings follow a pattern similar to a staircase. This is to accommodate the slope and height designations provided by the city.
“The buildings will follow the land as it goes north,” Johnson said.
Some additional resident concern has stemmed from the funding for this project. Part of the finances for the Canyon Centre Development will draw from tax increment financing (TIF). This has been updated at least three times throughout the process.
Many entities have entered into inter-local agreements to aid in funding this development. Included in those entities are Salt Lake County, Canyons School District, Cottonwood Heights Parks & Recreation Service Area, Central Wasatch Conservancy District and the South Salt Lake Valley Mosquito Abatement District.
Even though there are many entities involved, public funding will only be used for the parking garage to accommodate public parking.
One of the most significant contributors is Salt Lake County. They have a vested interest in this development as it will provide significant public parking for the canyons. Over 260 parking stalls are in the plans for public parking during nights and weekends. The county hopes this will help ease some of the burden of canyon traffic. They have provided roughly $1 million toward a parking easement for this project.
“The county is a big player here because they have a big interest for public parking,” Park said.
“They have a lot invested in this,” Berndt said. “I think everybody does.”
The current agreement was established by city staff, the city’s legal council, developers, two main builders and former Mayor Kelvyn Cullimore. On Jan. 16, the Canyon Centre Development agreement was presented to the newly elected members of the Cottonwood Heights City Council. It was also reviewed by Salt Lake County, since “they have given us a great deal of money to make this happen,” Park said.
All of the entities involved still have to re-vote on the development agreement after the previous election cycle. After all the paperwork has been approved and signed, planners are optimistic that the entire development should take about two years to complete.
A discussion of the Canyon Centre Development finances was tentatively scheduled for Feb. 19 during the weekly city council meeting.