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The City Journals

West Jordan city plans for ‘downtown’ near City Hall

Sep 29, 2021 01:40PM ● By Erin Dixon

Current 2021 concept drawing, facing south. This drawing is not what will be built but is the basic idea of the plan. (Image courtesy West Jordan)

By Erin Dixon | [email protected]

There have been at least six maps drawn to revive the property around City Hall on Redwood Road. Some of these ideas were conceived 15 years ago, before TRAX came through. 

Why have there been so many plans and no action?

“It takes a tremendous amount of money, a tremendous amount of political will,” West Jordan Economic Development Director Chris Pengra said to the council in August.

“This is by every account, a visionary project,” Pengra said. “It’s something you have to look way forward to, and we don’t have a road to get there. Everything has to be built from the ground up. There are no easy answers on how to get there.”

Councilmember Chris McConnehey has been on the city council since 2012 and has seen several proposed projects come and go. 

“None of these plans have come to fruition, because the city doesn’t own the property,” McConnehey said. “And these plans haven’t been created in conjunction with Jordan School District, which owns the property. To make progress, we need to partner with the current property owner to make sure their needs are met by the project. They need to be included in every step of the process; otherwise, we’ll continue to see new (and expensive) designs meet the same end as the half dozen prior plans that have vanished as a dream.”

The design currently on the table is a rough draft, with no specific businesses or number of houses set in stone. 

“I don’t have specific designs, but we’re talking about the types of designs: 40 to 60 residential units per acre,” Pengra said. “In order to get to a place where we can get wide streets and promenades and cafes, we’re going to need something that is producing more [tax base] than it is currently.”

The space sits next to a TRAX station, which means the area is more suited for high-density housing. 

“The TOD (Transit-Oriented Development) guidelines that the development needs great focus on connectivity,” Pengra said to the council. 

How the streets and walkways are built can either encourage or discourage walking in the area. 

 “The grid layout was intentional,” Pengra said. “Shorter block lanes decrease [walking] speed. It moves everything down to a more human scale. When you can see between them is what encourages exploration. Connectivity has an impact on economic development.”

While there are often cries of protest against closely built living spaces, Pengra said, “Residential is what moves the needle.”

Businesses are more likely to invest in the area if there are more people living there.  

“Are there enough people in the area to support more retail or office space? Absolutely,” Pengra said. “[However], like it or hate it, it is an investment. Will those retail and office establishments take the risk? Will [they] build vertically?”