COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS At barely two years old, Cottonwood Heights has received an honor few Utah cities garner: CNN Money Magazine ranked the city No. 100 on its annual "100 Best Places to Live" list.
Cottonwood Heights was the only Utah city on the list and one of only four cities in the Intermountain area to be named in the rankings that appear in the magazine's August issue.
"It's the people. It's the neighborhoods. It's the mix of business and residential and retail that combine to make a very comfortable living environment, especially when you take proximity to the recreation in the canyons," Cottonwood Heights Mayor Kelvyn Cullimore Jr. said.
The magazine, which posted results last week on cnnmoney.com, started with a list of 2,876 cities with populations between 7,500 and 50,000. It then weeded the list down based on crime rates, job opportunities, dramatic jumps or drops in population, education scores, weather, commute time, divorce rate, housing affordability and arts and leisure activities. Researchers also took racial diversity into account and cut towns that were more than 95 percent white.
"Known as 'the city between the canyons,' Cottonwood Heights used to be the overnight stopping point for lumber wagons traveling to and from Big and Little Cottonwood canyons," the magazine's review of the 28,400-resident city reads. "Today, ski bunnies can enjoy the state's premiere ski resorts at each canyon."
The review listed a 20-mile proximity to downtown, good freeway access and great job center as top reasons the city made the list. Second only to Salt Lake City, Cottonwood Heights has the highest number of class A office buildings in Utah.
The city is headquarters to companies that include Overstock.com, Jet Blue, Mrs. Fields, Kern River Gas Transmission Co., Extra Space Storage and Sonic Innovations.
Cullimore, a 27-year resident of the city, attributes that to the city being very business-friendly, with no franchise taxes and reasonable business licensing fees and property tax rates. The company where Cullimore is president and chief executive officer, Dynatronics Corp., is also based in the city.
Liane Stillman, the city's manager, was interviewed by the magazine numerous times in June for the list.
"The proximity between Big and Little Cottonwood canyons I think really won them over. From Cottonwood Heights to the top of a ski lift is probably 15 minutes," she said.
She said that Cottonwood Heights was one of the only cities on the list without its own city center. The city is currently trying to buy the closed Cottonwood Heights Elementary School from Jordan School District to create its own plaza-style city center, where a permanent city hall and police station could be located. It would be kitty-cornered from the parks and recreation center and next to a 20-acre park."We've already been designated as a nice place to live, and the city center will be a considerable enhancement," she said.