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The City Journals

Fast food establishments not allowed in entertainment district around Maverik Center

Sep 23, 2019 03:25PM ● By Travis Barton

A map of the Decker Lake Station Overlay Zone where fast food restaurants won’t be allowed. (Map courtesy West Valley City documents)

By Travis Barton | [email protected] 

No, they cannot take your order. 

The West Valley City Council unanimously denied an ordinance Sept. 3 that would have allowed fast food restaurants with drive-up windows in the area surrounding the Maverik Center. 

The Decker Lake Station Overlay Zone (also known as the entertainment district that runs I-215 to about 2040 West and 3500 South to about 2910 South) was first created in 1996 when the Maverik Center began development. Drive-up windows have been prohibited since that time. 

With Hale Center Theatre, Carmike Cinemas and Wise Guys Comedy Club having left the area, general contracting firm Arnell West requested the change. Arnell West, whose business is located within the zone, noted in their application that “the area has changed from an ‘entertainment district’ to a more conventional commercial/business district” and that “new ideas and concepts might help modernize and bring additional interest to the area.”  

They also pointed out there is a Beans & Brews in the zone with a drive-up window. 

That window, said City Planning Director Steve Pastorik during an August study meeting, was an error and missed in the process. 

Even though those entertainment options are no longer there, Hale Center Theatre was recently replaced with Harman Theatre, run by West Valley City’s division of arts and culture. And that doesn’t mean elected officials don’t still want the area to be an entertainment district. 

Mayor Ron Bigelow noted it’s the only “entertainment district in the city. To start chipping away at that concerns me.” A few elected officials spoke of their desire, and what they’ve heard residents tell them, to have more sit-down restaurants. 

The ordinance would have allowed food chains like McDonald’s, Wendy’s or Taco Bell to set up locations in that zone as long as the drive-up window was on the side or back of the building. According to city documents, three parcels of land would most likely be affected by the change: the vacant lot north of the Arness West building, the former Chili’s building north of that currently up for sale, and the vacant property on the northwest corner of Decker Lake Drive and 3100 South. 

Councilmember Jake Fitisemanu Jr. said entertainment can still be the goal of the area. “Whose to know there isn’t another type of entertainment to go there.” 

Bigelow also said he wasn’t excited about the prospect of fast food there, preferring a “higher level” or “higher quality” option of tenants. 

Councilmember Lars Nordfelt said he wasn’t ready “to abandon the goals they have for the area.” 

The council still has high hopes for the area and ultimately felt fast food didn’t match its vision. 

“I’d like to see that area prosper and thrive,” he said.