NORTH SALT LAKE The first ceremonial shovelfuls of dirt were turned this week to represent the beginning of a $200 million mixed-use development in North Salt Lake.
Northbound travelers on U.S. 89 are greeted every day by a former gravel pit that many view as an eyesore.
North Salt Lake Mayor Shanna Shaefermeyer said she has wondered for 30 years what the city could do to bring some vitality to the city's gateway.
"We're always known as the city with the gravel pit and refinery entrance," she said during a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday. "This is a vision. It's something we have wanted for a long time."
The mixed-use development, Eaglewood Village, will be bordered by U.S. 89 on the west and Eagle Ridge Drive on the north, and will offer 570 residential units for sale, comprising a mix of town homes, row homes and condominiums.
Most living space is located in the village's lower portion, but about 160 townhomes will be built atop the hill looking over Davis and Salt Lake counties.
A yet-to-be-named grocer has signed a letter of intent to anchor Eaglewood Village's retail center, and the development will also boast 340,000 square feet of Class-A office space.
Compass Development Group project manager Ben Lowe said site preparation will keep his contractors busy until spring, when he hopes buildings can start going up.
But the 94-acre site has its challenges.
Compass principal Steve Lowe, Ben's father, said a wicking system has been set up in the village's southern portion to force water from the clay soils.
The southern portion of North Salt Lake abounds with natural springs, and because water and buildings don't mix, the developers plan to divert water from the nearby hillside with horizontal wells.
During the June City Council meeting in which the council approved a development agreement with the Lowes, the council learned that in some locations, where the ground is expected to settle 14 inches over the next 50 years, it will likely be necessary to bring in 10 to 15 feet of soil, about the weight of a 10-story building, to make the ground settle faster and compact to support future construction.
In other locations, deep foundations, such as a helical piers system, may be necessary to keep homes anchored to solid ground.
"There's a lot of work to do to make sure everything is just right," Steve Lowe said Wednesday.
Shaefermeyer said the Lowes have worked tirelessly to meet requirements the city has set for them.
She said Eaglewood Village's success will show the rest of Utah that North Salt Lake is a progressive city, because the development is walkable.
"We can't keep building a suburb here and expect people to drive 20 to 30 miles to work," she said.
Eaglewood Village is designed to allow its residents to live, work and shop near their homes. And if they want to go to Salt Lake City, it's a seven-minute drive.
Neighbors on Eagle Ridge Drive turned out to a public hearing in June 2006 to voice disapproval of a zoning change from commercial to a planned zone, which allowed Eaglewood Village to take place. Mike Morgan said he was concerned town homes behind his home could make property values drop.
But Ben Lowe said his group will develop the area behind the homes at the top of the hill into an attractive neighborhood with a six-acre park. That should help property values, he said.Other neighbors wondered about traffic congestion on Eagle Ridge Drive, a concern still held by Lenny Karlsen, who said he wishes another road could be built because, as he said, traffic is already congested on his street. But Karlsen said he's fine with whatever is built behind his home.