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HOLLADAY — After some contentious debate regarding the proposed redevelopment of the former Cottonwood Mall site, a new plan is being put forth by two local real estate developers hoping to create a "legacy" project the community will appreciate for years to come.
A few months ago, Ivory Homes and Woodbury Corp. came up with a proposal to build an expansive mixed-use development on the site of the defunct Cottonwood Mall that featured upscale housing, along with retail, commercial and office components rounding out the project. They had hoped to win over local residents and civic leaders with a design they thought would be amenable to their needs for the future growth of the community.
However, they quickly learned that a number of very vocal community members were less than enthusiastic about the proposal. They packed a City Council meeting to voice their displeasure and displayed yard signs that were posted throughout the city.
After a fair amount of revisions, the developers believe they may now have come up with a new plan that will satisfy the needs and desires of most of the community — even their most ardent critics.
"The process we've gone through with the neighborhood and the community has been healthy," said Ivory Homes CEO Clark Ivory. "We were probably a little too insensitive, particularly on the (building) height issue."
Among the concerns raised by residents about the Cottonwood Holladay project were the proposed height of one of the office buildings that was to be about 136 feet high — much taller than any other nearby structure. Another was the incorporation of high-density rental housing units that prompted harsh criticism from opponents. Additionally, opponents said there was little open space that was to be included in the planned development.
Upon hearing those concerns, the developers went "back to the drawing board" and revamped the entire proposal, said Jeff Woodbury, senior vice president of development and acquisitions at Woodbury Corp.
"We tried to listen to what the people's concerns were," he said. "We went back to our plan and said, 'What can we do to modify this plan and so we can show that we've been sensitive to the needs of the neighborhood?'"
Besides lowering the maximum building height to 90 feet, the number of apartments was reduced by 22 percent, the average size of single-family home lots was increased to a quarter-acre, one-third of the 56-acre site will be left as open space and the restaurants, shopping and office components of the project were increased by 65 percent, he said.
"We want to make sure this village we create fits inside the neighborhood and is a positive (addition) to the whole Holladay community," Woodbury said. "That's what we're striving for — the creation of a village."
He noted that when considering what changes to make, they listened to some of the suggestions coming from local residents who have a stake in what fits best in their community and tried to incorporate some of those ideas.
The project's residential component will include luxury single-family homes, high-end brownstones and more affordable manor homes that will be spread strategically throughout the development, Ivory said. Their goal is to receive conditional approval for the project by summer, which would allow for a possible fall start of the first phase of the multiphase development.
We want to make sure this village we create fits inside the neighborhood and is a positive (addition) to the whole Holladay community. That's what we're striving for — the creation of a village.
–Jeff Woodbury, senior vice president of development and acquisitions at Woodbury Corp
Woodbury said the full development could take a decade or more to complete, though Ivory noted the initial residential phase could be occupied in about two years pending the time of approval.
The overall project is estimated at about $500 million, Ivory said.
The revised proposal is expected to be presented to the Holladay City Council on March 22, with time for public comment in the coming weeks.
Holladay resident Drew Menlove "wasn't at all excited about" the project when it was initially proposed in January, saying "it didn't fit the character of Holladay."
"The mixed-use was fine, it was the amount of density," he said. "Per square mile, the density was almost equal to what you'd see residential density in New York City be."
He noted that for him and other Holladay residents, the proposed changes have helped eliminate those fears.
"They did a really good job of listening to the public, and they've come back with a proposal that most people agree can work if they keep their promises," Menlove said. "I'm glad they listened and came up with such a great plan."
Despite the work done to mitigate concerns about the project, Holladay Mayor Robert Dahle said in January there was still much to be done before any ground could be broken. Dahle said the Cottonwood site has been the top issue constituents have mentioned since he took office four years ago.
Currently owned and under contract with the Howard Hughes Corp. for an approved mixed-use project that never materialized, the site has remained untouched for nearly 10 years. But Ivory and Woodbury have negotiated a possible sale of the land if the new proposal is eventually approved by the city.