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Volunteer effort opposes proposed development at old Cottonwood Mall site in Holladay

Posted at 10:03 PM, Jun 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-22 00:03:57-04

HOLLADAY, Utah -- Volunteers in Holladay said they want to leave the final say up to voters on new plans to redevelop the old Cottonwood Mall site.

Work has moved forward on Holladay Quarters, after months of controversy and outcry by residents.

The group Unite for Holladay spear-headed a petition effort to gather signatures for two referendums.

"If everybody's voice is heard, then we know what the community wants," said Brett Stohlton with Unite for Holladay.

The first referendum would ask voters to decide on the development itself. He said the second referendum touches on the development agreement calling for $22 million in subsidies on the tax increment.

Stohlton estimated that by this weekend, they will have collected more than half the required 5,800 signatures needed. He said the deadline to reach the goal is July 12.

Volunteers said they aren't on board with turning the site into tall, apartment-style mixed-use buildings and neighborhoods.

"We're trying to prevent this really over-concentration of people in this one small area," said volunteer Trisha Topham.

Katie Tullis, who has been gathering signatures door-to-door, questioned the impact to infrastructure.

She worried, "what it will do to our traffic, and our schools, and all of our resources.”

It's one of two recent high-density developments to come under fire recently.

Olympia Hills, a massive mixed-use site proposed west of Herriman, has been nixed for now, after residents shared similar concerns.

But when it comes to housing demands in Utah, a report by the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute shows it's fast becoming a crisis.

"We add over 50,000 new people a year, every year, to the state," director Natalie Gochnour said. "That's about the size of Taylorsville."

Meanwhile, the report indicates that housing options are in short supply, driving home prices up.

Gochnour said the Salt Lake Valley is "running out of a lot of land" for development.

"We need to develop in a way that is more affordable—that might mean more dense," she said.

She also explained that might mean looking at re-developing areas within already established parts of the valley, and building on the periphery of the valley.

"It's a struggle to find, where do you put the growth?" she said.

For Unite for Holladay volunteers like Tullis, the goal isn't to stop development—rather, tone the density down.

"If they could bring density down a little bit, I'm then 100% for it," she said. "I'm very pro-development."