“Mountain Meets Urban” is Sandy City’s new motto, and nothing makes this more clear than The Cairns, a 30-year project that has already been put into motion.
Touted as the “biggest announcement” in Sandy history, The Cairns is a planned 20 million-square-foot, 1,100-acre office, retail and residential “mountain city,” touted as the first of its kind in the world.
The Cairns logo in front of an actual cairn. The stack of stones known as a cairn was chosen as the symbol of Sandy’s new city center because of its purpose of guidance and bringing elements of the mountains into the city. Photo courtesy of Sandy City
It will all begin with 2016 construction on an off-ramp on Monroe Street, an Interstate 15 off-ramp that will go under 10600 South and lead into the heart of the city center. The entire planned center will encompass from 9000 South to 11400 South and from I-15 to the TRAX lines. The Cairns will be considered the “ultimate mountain base camp,” Sandy City Communications Director Nicole Martin said.
“The Cairns is a city center that, I think, will define what city centers should be,” Martin said. “It responds to where the trends are going in terms of where people want to live. It anticipates the growth that we’re going to have in our state, and it also makes use of the amenities that Sandy City naturally has.”
One of Sandy’s benefits is its close proximity to I-15 and world-class ski resorts. While there are many mountain towns, a mountain city will build off of the ability to travel anywhere quickly to provide activities and experiences beyond what is immediately noticeable, Martin said.
“You’ve got ski towns where you have great access to the ski resorts,” she said. “What you don’t have is all of the amenities that you might want when you’re done skiing, like restaurants and the night life. With a mountain city, you have all of the amenities of a big city, like Salt Lake City, but you have access to all of the world-class recreation right next to that city. It brings a much fuller experience to the tourist in this ski city than they would ever have in a ski town, and all of that is present in The Cairns.”
At the heart of The Cairns will be The Prestige, a Simons Platt Creations, LLC residential development with a planned 650 apartments and condominiums. Buildings will stand from six to 25 stories high, providing views of the Salt Lake Valley and Wasatch Mountains. Groundbreaking will begin in February.
The South Towne Center Mall is also going to be a part of this project, with extensive renovations planned later this year to make it fit in with the “Mountain Meets Urban” concept of The Cairns. The two-level mall, which attracts 8 million visitors every year, was purchased by Pacific Retail Capital Partners, Silverpeak Real Estate Partners and the Merchant Banking Division of Goldman Sachs in November. The multi-million dollar restructuring of the mall will add new entrances, stone and wood indoor materials, and an outdoor element emphasis inside.
One of the main concepts of The Cairns is to have a UTA-run travel system that will require next to no personal vehicle use. A circulator bus will follow a designated route between Sandy and South Jordan. This will not only reduce vehicle emissions, Martin said, but it will also provide the convenience of having everything in the city center readily available to residents and visitors at any given moment.
“One of the key elements is this idea of transit-oriented development,” she said. “As a resident, I could live, work and play in [The Cairns] area, and I can do all of it without using a car at all. One of the plans is to have a commuter bus that will circulate throughout The Cairns. I might choose to buy a condo, and my job might be up at the Workers Comp. building. I could hop on that commuter bus, go to work, and then go to one of the new restaurants at the renovated mall. I can do all of that without using a car at all.”
Hamilton Partners at East Village is an entire transit-oriented housing development that is already currently under construction. The $46 million development will eventually include over a thousand housing units, and the nearby TRAX station will connect with a FrontRunner stop via a downtown circulator.
Besides the obvious appeal to visitors, Sandy City officials hope that longtime and future residents will also appreciate the city’s new look and feel.
“We hope that residents are excited about this new vision,” Martin said. “This is a vision that has a lot of planning behind it, and this is a city center that we think they’re going to be proud of. We want to create a sense of community. We want to have events happening in our city every weekend to which families can come and that can draw communities together. We think we’re creating a sense of place, a city that residents who have lived here for 50 years can be excited about and can be proud to call this home.”
Sandy City’s trails system is a key factor in bringing the “Mountain Meets Urban” feeling to The Cairns. Over the past eight years, trails have been the number-one priority for Sandy residents, according to citywide Dan Jones surveys.
• 94 percent of Sandy residents feel that trails, pathways and green space are very important.
• Over two-thirds of respondents reported the use of Sandy trails at least a few times per year; one-third reported using the trails a few times per month.
• 81 percent of residents feel a trail system is a worthwhile investment.
• Almost four out of five respondents support the use of city funds to finance a trail system in Sandy City.
• In October, more than 6,000 people took advantage of the Bell Canyon Trail, and more than 9,000 utilized the Jordan River Trail.