Gateway to Holladay: new zone to create a sense of ‘arrival’
Nov 25, 2019 09:53AM
By Zak Sonntag
Cars wait for traffic light at the center of the new Holladay Crossroads zone. (Zak Sonntag/City Journals)
By Zak Sonntag | [email protected]
Holladay City held an open house in November to solicit public feedback on the newly created Holladay Crossroads zone (HCR), one of the city’s most economically vital locations on its southern boundary.
The zone is oriented around the junction where Van Winkle Expressway, Highland Drive and Vine Street intersect, and is considered a “primary gateway and critical transportation node” for Holladay, according to a land use and transportation study completed by city consultants.
The specially designed HCR zone comes on the heels of the city’s Holladay Crossroads Small Area Master Plan (SAMP), written to enhance and “contribute to the ‘gateway’ functions of the area,” and “provide an opportunity for increased human interaction and protect and increase the economic vitality of the city.”
The new zoning standards do not impose restrictions on existing businesses and property owners, but will require new developments to abide by certain design and utility standards that promote “aesthetically attractive” and “easily accessible” mixed-use structures, which may produce outcomes “similar to the Holladay Village Zone but unique to the Holladay Crossroads area.”
“The city wants the area to have a feeling of ‘arrival.’ We’d like it to be similar to the Holladay Village with smart design and accessible areas that create a sense of ambiance, because that adds a lot of value to communities,” said Paul Allred, community development director.
No projects have been slated as of now, but early considerations include a triple turning lane from Highland Drive on the Van Winkle Expressway, walking paths and bike lanes, and a potential roundabout, which could help mitigate congestion at a heavily trafficked throughway.
Significant priority has been placed on the zone’s architectural aesthetics and function. No massive monolithic facades. No bright neon-painted exteriors. And all mechanical equipment, like elevators, must be screened to dampen the sound so it does not create a “nuisance for the occupants of any abutting residence,” according to the plan.
Instead, the plan envisions stonework plazas, water fountains, arcades and trellises. Any interested re-developers must incorporate at least three preapproved design styles, which may include door treatments and window embellishments, decorative paving, unique grillwork and enhanced landscaping.
The plan hopes these standards will “complement the pedestrian activities” “and promote walkability.”
While residents applauded the zone’s focus on walkability and aesthetics, some expressed concern that denser development might impact their quality of life.
“There’s already so much traffic on 6200 South that it’s hard to turn out of my subdivision,” said Katie Godfrey, who lives in the Quail Hollow subdivision along the new zone. Godfrey also bemoaned the idea that new apartments may only be required to provide 1.5 parking spaces for each two-bedroom unit. “That’s ridiculous — if you have two bedrooms and two people then you need two spaces. What are they going do then? They’ll park on the street in the neighborhoods and people that want to visit will have to walk forever to get there,” Godfrey said.
Allred was quick to rebut Godfrey, saying, “The types of apartments [allowed in the HCR zone] will have a lot of single people, and trends show that many people are living without cars. They use public transportation and they walk and bike.” Allred also pointed out that parking lots pose certain quality-of-life problems of their own. “Additional parking spots add a lot of extra expense for both businesses and residents. And they add a lot of heat — the more parking spaces you have the more you have to run the air conditioning.”
Some residents questioned the burden new residential units might place on schools. “What will they do with all the new kids coming into the schools? They’re going to fill the classrooms and overwhelm teachers,” said Bonnie Felts, who lives just outside the new district.
Again, Allred had an answer, citing studies that indicate the majority of apartment dwellers do not have school-age children, bringing their household size significantly below the current 2.72 Holladay household average. “The studies show that by the time they have school-age children, they’re moving out of apartments. So the impact on schools in the area will be negligible.”
Tom Lloyd, a developer who lives in Holladay, questioned the need altogether. “I don’t see what the hurry is. You’ve already got retail, grocery, a gym. It’s not like it’s wide open space. Unless you were going to do something with significant density increases it wouldn’t be worth it.”
For Angela Brandon, whose property abuts the zone, the biggest concern was privacy. “If they put up one of these complexes, the only thing that separates them from me will be a chain-link fence.”
The maximum height allowed in the zone is 65 feet. However, buildings within 200 feet of abutting residential boundaries are restricted to 32 feet. Still, Brandon worries. “Form a higher vantage I’m nervous whoever’s there will be able to look right into my yard and see me. I don’t want to have to worry about people watching me.”
The city is encouraging residents to submit their comments on the area.
“We want to hear those concerns. Please, submit your opinions in writing so we can have them be part of our records and use them to help create better options that people are comfortable with. We want to hear from everyone,” Allred said.