Recently, the Sugar House/Fairmont area was named one of America's 10 Great Neighborhoods. The area earned the award because of a potential $400 million and 2 million square feet of new development. As part of the planning to create an inviting and pedestrian oriented redevelopment area, a new plan is being proposed that provides a compromise between development and retaining the character of the neighborhood. The Circulation study will guide the City's planning in Sugar House for the next several years.
Current plans include closing Monument Plaza on 2100 South to traffic and parking, realigning Sugarmont and Wilmington, implementing a road diet on Highland Dr. (reducing lanes of traffic), division of large blocks like Shopko and Granite into smaller more pedestrian oriented development and putting bicycle lanes on 2100 South.
Commercial development and removal of much of the on-street parking could impact nearby single family homes and a parking district is being considered for the future. Plans for parking structures next to sidewalks and adjacent single family homes are also being considered.
Salt Lake City is encouraging and collecting comments on the plan from the public. The plan is scheduled to go to the planning commission in November. Comments from the public can be made to Salt Lake City's Open City Hall. Residents and visitors and workers in the area should also consider getting involved in the Sugar House Community Council which has been reviewing the new plan. It meets the first Wednesday of every month at 7 p.m. in the Sprague Library basement on Highland Dr. just south of 2100 South.
The area next to streetcar stations could be rezoned into high density or commercial. That could put multi-story offices and apartments next to single family homes. There also is some discussion about an assessment district for funding the maintenance of the streetcar.
Other controversial ideas being discussed are road diets on 2100 South. A road diet reduces traffic lanes to create bicycle lanes. It is controversial because some say it can create traffic backups that increase pollution. It is supposed to be considered realistic on roads with less than 20,000 average daily trips. Much like the 1300 East road diet, it will cause much anguish unless the local community is involved in the decision. It is a complicated issue when the area is trying to encourage pedestrians and bikers while ensuring that noise and pollution from traffic does not increase.
Design considerations being considered to create an inviting area for pedestrians and shoppers and bikers include wider sidewalks, glass walls facing sidewalks, awnings and covered sidewalks, better lighting, bike parking, landscaping, sitting areas with blocks or chairs or covered benches, trash bins, food cart areas, kiosks, maps, trees and a music and theater facility. How to handle the large homeless population in the area is also being discussed.
The chance of success of the New Sugar House increases with a greater participation by the public in the process. Please get involved and review the plans and comment on them on Salt Lake City's Open City Hall and get involved with the Sugar House Community Council as it reviews the plans for the area.
George Chapman is a resident of Salt Lake City and frequents the Sugar House area many days of the week.