Consider it a mosaic of sorts. A work of modernistic community art crafted by planners, not artisans.
But this is a municipal mosaic, portraying a carefully planned patchwork of varied uses: Small retail businesses, multistory office buildings, service-oriented shops, upscale restaurants and mixed-use housing that includes high-density residential units.What you won't find in this picture are car lots, tire stores, fast-food establishments, gas-and-go convenience stores, manufacturing businesses or that irksome montage of billboards and power lines that is all-too-common in other parts of the city.
This visionary work is titled the "Jordan River Overlay Zone," and it offers West Valley residents a promising portrait of what their city's eastern gateway can look like just a few years hence.
It foresees themed landscaping, an "urban trails" system linked to the Jordan River Parkway, some works of art, open-space areas and possibly even a multicultural center on land the city recently purchased west of the river.
And at a time when other communities are still dreaming of ways to get a sense of "here," the overlay zone is West Valley's best shot at creating some "here-ness" now.
Adopted by the City Council on April 2, the overlay zone is set apart from other areas of the city by a set of stringent planning controls that governs the visual flavor, mix of land uses and quality of development at the eastern entrance to the com-mun-i-ty.
The overlay zone covers an area of approximately 100 acres west of the Jordan River to about 1400 West and between 3100 and 3500 South. Much of the ground is still undeveloped.
To create the zone, the council has adopted a commercial overlay for the area and rezoned a manufacturing area to commercial use while incorporating high-density residential units into the complex mix of planned uses.
"People will be able to live near where they work," said Joe Moore, West Valley's community and economic development director. "This mixed-use concept is more flexible than traditional zones.
"But it is the standards for development that really will set this area apart," he said. "There will be greater landscaping requirements and more stringent architectural requirements."
City officials laid the groundwork for the new overlay zone last fall after ordering a development moratorium on the area that stymied some developers, including one who wanted to locate a car lot along 3300 South.
The move created a furor among some property owners who were worried about the effects of the overlay zone on their property values. They were fearful of down-zoning and concerned about the costs of meeting the new development standards.
But Moore said he believes most of those issues were resolved as planners modified their initial concept to accommodate more of the existing uses in the area.
"Frankly, this is going to increase property values" throughout the zone, he added.
City manager John Patterson said the city may face lawsuits from one or two parties that had hoped to develop businesses along 3300 South that are now prohibited within the new zone.
But he indicated the city is prepared for such legal challenges and remains committed to upgrading the quality of development in the Eastern Gateway area.
The overlay zone incorporates many of the concepts recommended by the Rural/Urban Design Assistance (RUDAT) Team that visited the city last fall to analyze resources and help West Valley officials plan for the future.
City Council members approved the purchase of 6.7 acres of land within the overlay zone in February and plans to sell part of the land fronting 3300 South for high-end commercial development.
The city will retain most of the property, located north of 3300 South and west of the river, and wants to set aside part of the land for a multicultural center.