HOLLADAY — The latest proposal to redevelop the site of Cottonwood Mall may feel familiar to Holladay residents.
After voters last year struck down a controversial redevelopment plan through a referendum and ensuing legal battle, a local developer is now looking to construct a "luxury mixed-use lifestyle center," according to a plan that was approved in 2007 but never completed.
The Holladay Planning Commission on Tuesday evening approved conceptual plans for the Holladay Hills subdivision and one block of the development. The proposal from Millrock Capital, Woodbury Corporation, and KBS Commercial Advisors would populate the site with restaurants, shops, office space and luxury condominiums.
Responses to the proposal during a public comment period at the meeting ranged from supportive to skeptical, as some residents expressed concern about potential traffic congestion, the aesthetics of a densely developed area, and the affordability of the proposed condominiums. Some said they would like to see the plan include more green space, and multiple residents implored the developers not to turn the area into something resembling the Sugar House neighborhood of Salt Lake City, which they described as an "eyesore" and a "concrete jungle."
Whichever final form the project takes, several speakers said they would like to see more collaboration between developers and the community during the development process this time around. Steve Peterson, the applicant representing Millrock Capital, assured meeting attendees that collaboration with the community is a priority for the developers.
"We want to do everything we can to find a way that will unite our community," Peterson said.
The plan, which was originally developed by General Growth Properties, was first approved by the city in 2007. General Growth Properties invested $25 million into the site at the time, but the project came to a halt in 2009 when the company went bankrupt.
Peterson’s proposal includes 614 residential units and roughly 715,000 square feet of commercial building space. The tallest proposed building would stand at five stories and 80 feet high; the plan approved in 2007 allows for a maximum building height of 90 feet. The conceptual plan also includes the potential for a hotel and theater.
It's expected that some of the condominiums in the development would be sold and others would be rented. A 2,500-square-foot penthouse would cost an estimated $2.5 million.
"These condos aren’t going to be cheap," Peterson said.
The high price tag worried some residents, who cited rising housing costs in the city.
"Who in Holladay has $2.5 million to downsize?" Peter Monson said, eliciting laughter from the crowd. "Holladay’s getting younger, Holladay's growing, and a lot of us who are younger can’t afford $2.5 million to downsize because we cannot afford housing in Holladay already."
Supporters of the plan, including Holladay Chamber of Commerce President Jason Woodland, praised the potential economic benefits to the city, such as increased tax revenue and more traffic for local businesses nearby.
Peterson described the site of the now-nonexistent mall as a "very strategic" and "very important" revenue stream for the city.
"For the last 10 years we have lost out on the revenue stream that was projected when we became a city in 1999," Peterson said.
Holladay resident Walter Reichert, who described himself as "skeptical" of the project, said he liked the view of the mountains without buildings on the empty lot.
"We could talk about all of the revenue that Central Park has lost by being there (in New York City), but on the other hand I kind of like to think that there were a lot of advantages to having that as an open space," Reichert said.
Some speakers questioned how the development could affect traffic in the area, and said they had concerns about potential congestion.2 comments on this story
Diane Young, who said she and her husband had both worked at Cottonwood Mall, pointed out that cars were frequently parked on the road because of the overflowing parking lot while the mall was open.
"We seem to forget that the mall was so busy we had cars everywhere, and now we’re worried about congestion?" Young said. "Let’s face it, it’s progress," she said of the proposed redevelopment. "It’s time to move on."
If the final plans are approved by the city, the developers say they anticipate the project being completed in five to 10 years.