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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Councilmembers to select residents for committee to oversee future town center effort

Sep 07, 2023 01:54PM ● By Cassie Goff

Many Cottonwood Heights residents have been voicing their interest in serving on a Steering Committee to plan for the future of the town center imagined to take the place of the Hillside Plaza partially abandoned strip mall. (Photo courtesy of MGB+A Consultants)

Last year, the city of Cottonwood Heights began the process of purchasing the strip mall area known as Hillside Plaza at approximately 2378 Fort Union Blvd. with the intended vision of developing a town center. As the full acquisition of the property is nearly complete, a consultant to design has been selected with the eventual development to follow. The consultant will work with a Steering Committee comprised of Cottonwood Heights residents to ensure the town center is fit for the public it’s designed to serve. 

“The community played a big part in where we are today,” said Mayor Mike Weichers. “We want to make sure to continue to involve them.”

The Cottonwood Heights City Council came to the agreement that the Steering Committee should be made up of 12 members. Each of the five councilmembers will select two residents from each district to be a part of the Steering Committee. The City Manager will also be selecting one resident to serve as an at-large representative. The final member will be selected as a representative from the Planning Commission. 

Many residents have already been reaching out to their city official(s) to voice their interest. Once each of the 12 members of the Steering Committee is selected, they will be educated on the scope of the project and the desired outcomes. They will then set a regular meeting schedule and establish clear committee roles. 

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In the meantime, city staff members and elected officials have been interviewing interested consultants. After a grueling selection process, Cottonwood Heights selected MGB+A to be the main consultant working on the design and eventual development of the new town center. 

“We were really impressed with this consultant. We are really really excited to engage them,” Weichers said.

Public Involvement Lead Lindsey Ferrari (from Wilkinson Ferrari & Co.) agreed that the Steering Committee, whom she will be working closely with in the future, should be made up of about 12 residents. She also reminded the council that the committee members will need to select a chair. 

“My job is to bring public input to this team in a way that’s useable and manageable,” Ferrari said. 

In addition, Ferrari emphasized the importance of bringing in the public for feedback and input and during three crucial points throughout the planning process. 

“I’m really interested in place-making,” said Project Manager and Landscape Architect Greg Boudrero. “We are excited to bring some real-work perspective. Sometimes, I think plans can go amazingly crazy and we have to have a gut check on what actually works.”

 As a team, the MGB+A Consultants hold over 25 years of experience and collaboration with licenses and brokers. Additional members of the MGB+A Consultant team working on the town center include Principal Landscape Architect Jay Bollwinkel, Architect Christopher Lund (from NWL), Client Relations Manager Tanner Steenblik (from NWL), Director of Planning CJ Lindberg (from NWL), Economic Consultant Susan Becker (from ZPF), Civil Engineer Koby Morgan (from Ensign), Housing Developer Jeff Beck (from Beck + Partners), and Public Involvement Specialist Hilary Robertson (from Wilkinson, Ferrari & Co.). 

“We are not just developers worried about how to get our toe in the work here,” assured Retail Developer Allen Clemons (from Sequel Development). “You have a unique opportunity where you can create a space where many people can visit the backdrop at the base of the Greatest Snow on Earth.” 

MGB+A and the Steering Committee will work within the internal policies and priorities set by the Cottonwood Heights City Council and Wasatch Regional Council. The priorities set for the future town center established by city staff members and council include development with mixed-use housing, active transportation and public transit opportunities.

Meanwhile, Hillside Plaza remains idle. Some of the buildings have been vacant for years while others have the remains of previous ownership, like grocery store equipment collecting dust in the old Reams building.  

Cottonwood Heights Community and Economic Development Director Mike Johnson noted that he’s received calls of interest to lease out the buildings until the design for the town hall is completed and development is ready to go. However, interest from places like Halloween-themed stores, paintball arenas, and industrial furniture warehouses would be interested in leasing out space that is move-in ready, which many of the buildings within the Hillside Plaza are not. 

Johnson relayed to the council that if they were to look at leasing those buildings on a year-by-year basis with investment requirements, they would need to do further research on the tax implications. The council was generally opposed. λ