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Sandy Journal

Stadium Village redevelopment plans start with community feedback

Jun 15, 2018 10:08AM ● By Justin Adams

The Tiny Wood Village Mobile Home Park sits in the shadow of Rio Tinto Stadium. Its residents could be forced to move if the property owner decides to sell to developers. (Justin Adams/Sandy City Journal)

By Justin Adams | j.adams@mycityjournals.com

Thousands of Real Salt Lake fans sat disappointed in Rio Tinto Stadium as they watched RSL lose 2-0 to Sporting Kansas City. At the same time, one mile away, Sandy residents who live next to the stadium sat in disappointment as they listened to a presentation about the tentative plans for how their community may soon be redeveloped.

“We realize that we’re on the chopping block,” said Karen Morgan, who lives in the Tiny Wood Village Mobile Home Park located directly north of the stadium.

“We already know they are going to (push us out). We just want to know when,” said Mark Christ, another Tiny Wood resident.

Part of Sandy City’s Cairns district master plan is the redevelopment of the Stadium Village area, located mostly between State Street and I-15, and between 9000 South and 9400 South. The city has hired Gateway Planning, a Dallas-based firm, to help come up with a master plan. The earliest iterations of some possible directions for the plan were presented to members of the community on June 6.

“They haven’t made any decisions, but they want input, so that’s nice,” said Morgan, who noted that they weren’t given similar treatment when the stadium itself was being planned.

The three plans presented were all mixed-use plans with different emphases: entertainment, employment and residential. Each plan was drawn up by a two-person team from Gateway Planning and other contracted consultancy groups.

“We don’t believe any of the three plans are the plan,” said Bryce Baker, one of the people on the consultancy team.

Some features of the plans included a new nightlife-themed street with bars and restaurants, an indoor-sports complex, medium-to-high rise apartment buildings, a hotel near the stadium and new office buildings. The developers also want to make the area more friendly to other forms of transportation such as bike lanes and a pedestrian trail along the canal which cuts through the Village from the northeast to southwest corner.

Many of the drawings placed these new features over existing homes and businesses, but Scott Polikov of Gateway Planning made a point to assure property owners that they wouldn’t be forced out.

“We’re not suggesting that anyone has to give up their property or business. If you own property somewhere and see something else on top, we’re not saying that has to happen,” said Polikov.

The same message was echoed by Jake Warner, a project manager for the city’s community development department.

“My perspective of this project is to provide the big picture that can guide decisions. The fine grain of what actually gets built is going to depend largely on the market and the timing of the property owner,” he said. “For the most part, I don’t see the city getting involved.”

Sandy City has conducted a citizen survey to find out what residents would like to see happen with the area. One hundred forty-four people responded to the first survey, conducted between April 23 and May 10. Parking and traffic problems were the No. 1 concerns raised by those respondents.

“The city was so eager to get the stadium that they failed miserably with logistics to handle that many people coming into the area and needing parking,” said one respondent.

“The stadium should not have been built in Sandy. It has ruined the area. I can’t get home when there is an event at the stadium,” said another.

To help alleviate the traffic congestion, each of the three plans presented by Gateway included new roads through the Stadium Village area. For example, they would like to extend 9270 South on the west side of the stadium all the way to Monroe Street. They also want to create a new north-south road that would extend Monroe Plaza Way all the way to 9400 South.

Other complaints in the survey included the fact that there aren’t a lot of restaurants or bars in the area to go to after attending events at the stadium.

Sandy City Deputy Mayor Evelyn Everton told the Sandy Journal the city is committed to incorporating the public feedback into what eventually happens with the area.

“A lot of these things have been in the works and moving along well before (Mayor Bradburn) came in so the conversation with staff on the Stadium Village Master Plan was that he wanted to make sure that whatever they did, they got a lot of public comment,” she said.

Kurt Bradburn, who took office earlier this year, won on a campaign that emphasized “slowing the growth.” What exactly does that mean, though? Everton said while the mayor is not “anti-growth” or “anti-development,” he wants to isolate the growth to a certain area, namely the Cairns district.

However, the prospect of containing all the city’s development into a “miniature downtown” area is exactly what many of the survey respondents said they want to avoid.

Respondents said they feared the area will become a “downtown area,” “busy and chaotic,” “a big city environment” and that “anything with any history or uniqueness will be demolished and replaced by the same cookie-cutter strip malls and apartment complexes that are taking over our cities.”

Following the community presentation, members of the consultancy team went over to Rio Tinto Stadium to see for themselves the parking and congestion issues around stadium events that have residents concerned.

“I’d say the stadium was about two-thirds full but we could definitely see how full the parking lots were,” said Kelsey Barry, a project manager for Gateway Planning.

Barry also said that while it was a good experience to see action around the stadium firsthand, it didn’t significantly change anything about the team’s plans.

Gateway Planning will now take the three plans, and using the guidance received from the citizen survey, combine the best elements of the three plans and produce a rough draft plan that they will bring back to the community.

“We’ll be back in the fall with our first draft of the plan and that will enable some more rounds of feedback,” said Barry.

Eventually, there will be a final master plan that will be submitted to the city council for approval, probably at the end of the year. If the council adopts the plan, it still won’t necessarily mean that the plan will be carried out exactly as it’s laid out.

“(The plan) gives direction to developers. It gives direction to staff to start putting the tools together to bring it to pass. The end result of this process is the start of implementation,” said Warner.