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The City Journals

Zoning change clears the way for massive 647-unit apartment complex on city’s west side

May 26, 2021 01:27PM ● By Carl Fauver

This artist rendering offers an aerial view of where the five proposed West Point Development buildings will be situated. Three of the five buildings will have their own swimming pools and courtyard. (dwelldesignstudio.com)

By Carl Fauver | [email protected]

Unanimous votes by both the planning commission and city council have cleared the way for the largest influx of rentable housing to come to the city, through a single project, in the 25-year history of Taylorsville.

However, it’s still anyone’s guess as to when existing structures on the property will be demolished, new construction will begin, or the first tenants will call “West Point” home.

“I am excited about what this will bring to the city,” Councilman Dan Armstrong said. “I have a young son and he and his fiancée have been looking for an apartment. It’s just a really tight market. This project will add much-needed housing to a notoriously blighted part of our city. It will be such a plus.”

The “blighted” area is 16.49 acres, on the southwest corner of 5400 South and Bangerter Highway. Locals know it as “the old Kmart” store (long empty), some smaller ‘strip mall’ shops (vacant) and a massive parking lot. For years, city council members have rejected various zoning change proposals, because they didn’t care for what developers wanted to do with the high-profile acreage. One wanted to construct storage units. Another wanted to sell used cars and trucks.

But now Salt Lake-based Thackeray Company instead plans to construct 647 apartment units, and at least 10,000 square feet of commercial space, while surrounding them with nearly a thousand parking stalls, some on two levels.

“This is going to be such a significant upgrade to that area,” City Community Development Planner Mark McGrath said. “This property will be second-to-none in Taylorsville in terms of appearance and walkability. UDOT’s construction of the Bangerter overpass (at 5400 South) has been a catalyst for this project. This (West Point Development) will improve the area even more. We hope to see a lot of higher quality projects going in, along 5400 South west of this property.”

Prior to the city council’s May 5 vote to approve the zoning change, some nearby residents voiced concerns about noise and traffic. But Armstrong is confident Thackeray Company will mitigate those issues.

“Nobody wants to see higher populations in their areas,” Armstrong said. “But the design of this project protects the privacy of people living to the south. The traffic (increase) should not create any problems for them either. The city will have to pay for water and sewer improvements. But we need a project like this, because of the property tax revenues it will generate.”

Before joining the Taylorsville City Council last year, to replace a departing council member, Anna Barbieri was the longest-tenured member of the city’s Planning Commission. She’s been aware of the issues facing this parcel of land for many years.

“This is a win-win-win for the property owner, the developer and the city,” she said. “As a planning commissioner, I heard so many last-ditch proposals for that property. With the 2008 recession and the work on the Bangerter overpass, it was a tough piece of property to get right. But this development will be very walkable, with good parking and fast food nearby.”

She’s also in favor of the development because of who is behind it.

“Thackeray has an outstanding reputation,” Barbieri added. “They build what they say they are going to build. It will be such a nice place. I suspect many residents will work from home. We may end up with not nearly as much traffic as some people are concerned about.”

Before city council members voted, developer John Thackeray addressed them.

“I have been developing properties for 43 years,” he said. “Your administration and planning staff have been so good to work with. It’s great to get more eyes on projects, because it improves them. I appreciate their efforts. I think people will be pleased with the design we have come up with, together.”

Mark McGrath reports, there are about 20,000 housing units throughout Taylorsville, of which roughly 35% (7,000) are apartments. Therefore, this single project, with its 647 units, will grow the city’s pool of rental properties by nearly 10%. 

The senior independent living development Summit Vista (on the other side of Bangerter Highway at 6200 South) has a much larger footprint and will eventually have more housing units than the West Point Development. But those are individually-owned units, reserved for older residents. Among rental apartments, available to residents of any age, this new complex will be the largest of its kind in Taylorsville.

During his presentation to the city council explaining the details of the proposed project, McGrath said the concept is even earning rave reviews from another Salt Lake Valley planning department.

“I received an email from Midvale City Planning Director Alex Murphy about this proposal,” McGrath told council members. “He wrote ‘Congratulations Taylorsville. That is a great project. Is there anything I can do to help?’ He said I could share this during the public comment period.”

Like Anna Barbieri, Taylorsville City Council Chairman Curt Cochran also once served on the city’s planning commission. 

“There have been several wishes for that property over the years that really weren’t a great fit,” Cochran said. “But this plan looks very good.”

Councilman Ernest Burgess added, “I wish the developer of (my) home had taken as much care in the design and layout as these developers have.” 

City officials do not expect people to start seeing demolition work at the site until at least 2022.

“They still have months and months of design work to get done,” McGrath concluded. “Even when that is completed, we’re experiencing a lot of building material cost issues – and construction material shortages. I would expect it to be next year before wrecking balls begin to swing. As far as we’re concerned, the sooner the better. But projects like this take time.”

McGrath said the next deadline for the West Point Development is December 1. Thackeray must finalize the purchase of the property by then, or the site specific (conditional use) zoning change will lapse. The new zoning is conditional on Thackeray remaining the developer. Construction specifics also require Taylorsville Planning Department approval.

A small portion of the 16.49-acre site (1.28 acres) is actually owned by the city and now has a check cashing business located on it.

“(The city) purchased that land during construction of the Bangerter overpass,” Councilman Armstrong explained. “We wanted to have more control over that corner and its future development. We paid about $2-million for it. It will be part of the sale when everything is finalized.”