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West Valley City Journal

Seven-story building coming to southeast WVC

May 09, 2018 05:04PM ● By Travis Barton

A rendering of the Sage Valley Apartment complex proposed to be built at 4100 South 1770 West just off of Redwood Road.

By Travis Barton | [email protected]

West Valley City will welcome a high-end apartment complex at 4100 South and 1770 West after a razor-thin city council vote approved a zone change and development agreement for the property.

After almost 90 minutes of residents voicing their feelings, the developer and city staff answering council questions and extensive discussion among councilmembers; the council voted 4-3 in favor of building a seven-story complex at the old Kmart site along 4100 South. 

Though it was 90 minutes during a city council meeting, it was almost four years for the city’s economic development team who aimed to revitalize a location where Kmart’s business license terminated on February 8, 2017.

City staff searched for big box retailers such as Home Depot, Trader Joe’s, VASA Fitness, WinCo or Fresh Market to replace the Kmart. Jeff Jackson, business development manager, explained to the city council during an April 10 work session they found no takers with multiple retailers not only downsizing their brick-and-mortar stores, but identifying the location as an “inbetweener.” It was too far from Valley Fair Mall and the 5600 South vibrant city centers to be an attractive location.

Jackson said they spoke with developers about putting offices there, who said no, or putting in other multi-use developments, which were too expensive for a meaningful project. What they did find, was a developer willing to meet the city’s standards to build the best apartment complex possible.

“They really held our feet to the fire,” Rich Day said of the city’s mandate for the developer meet certain standards with the project. Day is with Stay Capital, the project developer. 

The proposed development is set to feature 430 apartments and 21 townhomes, further land was bought to increase parking spaces to 700, which comes out to roughly 1.7 stalls per unit on site.

What separates the planned Sage Valley apartment complex, according to City Planning Director Steve Pastorik, are the amenities offered in the development agreement. Day mentioned granite countertops, access only via key cards and custom cabinetry as a few items. Other comforts include a swimming pool, courtyard, garages, on-site manager, private balconies, roof patios and bicycle storage. 

Day said they plan to pour $60 million into the project, which they hope will attract high-end clientele. It also explains the reasoning behind the high density.

“To achieve what we need…(and) with the effort we’re going to put in on this project, we have to have a certain number of units,” Day said.

Public reaction

Of the 15 people who spoke during the city council meeting (and the countless emails the city received), the majority opposed the development citing additional traffic, crime rates potentially increasing, safety concerns for children and overflow parking. All due to the density the complex would bring.

“(Having) nothing (there) would be better than high-density housing,” said Laura Thackeray who lives near the property.

West Valley City does not own the property so city officials did not have the choice to build a park. The land owner reportedly planned to turn the property into an indoor storage facility, which some residents preferred. City leaders felt enough storage facilities already existed in the area and the developer’s proposal was a more economically stimulating option. 

Much of the consternation stemmed from previous experiences with apartment complexes, residents cited high crime rates and not wanting to overexert an already stretched police force.

“A lot of crime in neighborhoods comes from nearby apartment complexes,” said resident Joan Wildon. “Who’s going to pay for more police to handle this? Density wreaks havoc on our city.”

Some nefarious incidents happened recently on and near the property including a dead body being found and a drive-by shooting that occurred across the street in the Smith’s grocery store parking lot. These incidents were highlighted by residents who pleaded with the council to not approve the proposed plan.

Pastorik explained a study was done comparing the Fairbourne Station apartment complex at 2900 West Lehman Avenue, with two other neighborhoods both west of 5600 West, Sugar Plum and Meadow Breeze. He said police calls per unit were approximate 1-1.4 compared with 0.7 calls from Fairbourne. 

“These newer apartments appear to have comparable or less calls per unit than single-family subdivisions,” he said. 

Thackeray said the nearby intersection of Redwood Road and 4100 South was among the most dangerous in the state. She said there are 6,700 cars that drive on 2200 West daily and an increase in traffic would only decrease safety for children in the area.

Pastorik reported an Institute of Transportation Engineers study that said commercial development at the property would increase traffic 15 percent more than what was proposed in the development.

With parking expected to be 1.7 stalls per unit on the development, some feared the overflow parking would simply spill into nearby neighborhoods.

Day, who grew up in West Valley City, said the complex would increase the value of the area.

“I really believe in (the project) and what you guys have here (in West Valley) is so special that someone needs to see that,” he said.

City Council decision

While residents expressed anxiety about a new apartment complex lowering property values and bringing fresh crime to an area already in dire need of upgrades, a few elected officials felt that was the exact reason to approve the zone change. It would revitalize the area.

Mayor Ron Bigelow cited one of the only votes he’s ever regretted—he opposed the creation of a Hunter Town Center Zone in 2017 and felt that area was now “on the path to deterioration”—as one reason for voting in favor.

The mayor also referenced the Idea House program previously done on several occasions by the city. Where a dilapidated house undergoes a complete remodel and is intended to spur investment in nearby homes, giving other homeowners ideas. He said the same concept can apply to this neighborhood. 

“If we go in and redevelop a home, refurbish it and it makes a difference in the neighborhood; there can be a good home here and it influences others,” Bigelow said.

If it’s a high-quality development, “we will get more people who are more committed to the city, we’ve seen it happen at Fairbourne Station,” Bigelow said. 

He added this was a difficult decision, he wasn’t a fan of the high density, but if they voted no, “things will stay as they are and it won’t add value to the area.” 

“We can’t promise anything but we make the best decisions with the information we have,” the mayor said. 

Councilman Steve Buhler said he believed it would revitalize the area. Having a variety of housing is important and the council has worked to increase high-end housing over the past few years, he said. “I think this will be good for the neighborhood.”

But not everyone on the council felt that way.

Councilwoman Karen Lang said the development was one of the finest she’d seen proposed in the city, but that it was designated for the wrong area. 

“We need something nice to lift up this area, I’m just not sure that the density is appropriate for that area seeing that we don’t have the facilities in place to take care of that amount of people,” she said. “I just don’t see these ratios of the parking and the density working at that location.” 

Councilman Jake Fitisemanu Jr. agreed with Lang highlighting the time he lived at City Creek in downtown Salt Lake City with his wife. It was great, he said, because of the resources nearby such as retail within walking distance and public transportation. Something the area around Redwood Road and 4100 South lacks, he said. 

Councilman Tom Huynh, who represents the district where the project will take place, concurred with residents’ concerns about crime listing off multiple incidents that occurred in the area and said he didn’t want any more to happen there. 

Those three votes, however, weren’t enough to oppose the new apartment complex now set to rise where the old Kmart used to be.