RIVERTON — Riverton leaders say opportunity and desire are leading to what will become the largest residential and commercial development in the city's history.
It’s an agreement that will draw homes, jobs and businesses on such a large scale, it's expected to have not only a major impact on Riverton, but also on south Salt Lake County.
City officials are expecting the developement of 543 acres — located between the Mountain View Corridor and Bangerter Highway near 134000 South — will bring up to 3,800 residential units and nearly 3 million square feet in office and retail space, meaning a potential population boom of up to 12,000 for the community of 42,000.
Riverton Planning Manager Jason Lethbridge sees it as a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," a chance to build a community from a “blank canvas."
“This is the type of development every city hopes to see in its lifetime,” Lethbridge said. “It really has felt like our planets have aligned. Just about the best thing that could happen to a city has happened. It’s not very often that a city has a plan that’s aligned with the right developer, the right property at the right time in the market."
But it would also mean the disappearance of nearly 550 acres of what is now open farmland.
While public input at city council meetings here leading up to the plan's approval have been mostly positive, some longtime Riverton residents lament their city's shift from its rural history to become a more a high-density community.
"That property has always been open space. Now it's not going to be. Once it's gone, it's gone," said Langford Lloyd, who has lived in the city all of his 52 years. "Now there's going to be that many more people and cars and traffic and pollution, all the things that come with high density."
At the end of January, city council members unanimously approved the agreement with the 543-acre Hamilton Farm property's owner, Suburban Land Reserve, a real estate arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Suburban Land Reserve spokesman Dale Bills said the plan was developed "at the request of Riverton leaders and planning officials to help build a vibrant future for the city."
The development is designed to create village-like communities with shopping plazas, tall office towers, public squares, schools, more than 20 acres of parks and trails, and a variety of homes, condos and apartments.
The plan stems from earlier city approval of an 85-acre shopping center deemed Mountain View Place, to be constructed at 13400 South and Bangerter Highway by California developer CenterCal, the same company behind Farmington's Station Park.
CenterCal is slated to begin construction this spring.
"I think it's fantastic," said Riverton resident Lisa Evans. "I think it's going to create great commerce for the city. I've been up to the Farmington Station several times, and I just really love the community feel of it. It's a great gathering place. I think any community can benefit from something that brings the community together."
Density requirements will be set at seven residential units per acre overall, but developers will have the freedom to assign specific densities area by area. Lethbridge said developers will also be allowed leeway in housing design, so styles can vary with market demand rather be restricted by city code.
"It's going to be very unique, something we'll be very proud to have in our community," City Councilman Trent Staggs said, adding that it could become a "destination place" in the southwest part of Salt Lake County.
Riverton Mayor Bill Applegarth said the new developments will provide a "substantial financial boon" for Riverton, which currently operates with no city property taxes.
"The potential for increased sales tax revenue from the CenterCal development is projected to be upward of $2 million, which is an increase to our current sales tax income of about $6 million," he said. "I couldn't be more excited ... This is an opportunity that will secure the type of sustainable growth and progress that residents will benefit from for years to come.”
Riverton resident Zac Vidmar said he moved with his wife, Katelyn, to Riverton about a year ago, into an apartment located near the development site. He said he's not thrilled about the development, but he's accepted that it is a direction the city is going.
"I do enjoy the open space. It's why we moved out here," he said, adding that he often jogs alongside the farmland and appreciates his easy commute along the free-flowing Mountain View Corridor.
"I don't want to sacrifice my awesome commute, but if it ends up like Daybreak, then everything will become a little more difficult and crowded. But if it's going to boost the city, I guess that's a good thing."
Email: [email protected], Twitter: KatieMcKellar1