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Potential end to Redwood Drive-In Theatre would devastate local sellers at swap meet

Posted at 6:56 PM, Jun 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-04 22:36:35-04

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah — Next Wednesday, an item will go before the city planning commission of West Valley City.

The item reads:

Petition by VAN DAELE HOMES OF UTAH INC. requesting a General Plan change from General Commercial to Medium Density Residential (7 to 12 units/acre) and a zone change from C-2 (General Commercial) to RM (Multiple Unit Dwelling Residential). The property is located at 3688 South Redwood Road on 24.9 acres.

This petition, if approved, would allow for the land that the Redwood Drive-In Theatre sits on to be redeveloped into medium-density housing.

Van Daele Homes of Utah Inc. is listed as the group petitioning the change.

The Redwood Drive-In is one of the very last drive-in movie theaters in Utah and across the U.S. This staple of the West Valley community also is home to a swap meet that draws in thousands every weekend.

For those that depend on that business coming through, the closure and redevelopment of that land would be devastating.

“It is heartbreak for sure,” Jessica Ibarra said.

She, her mother and her siblings have sold at the swap meet for 20 years.

“I would probably cry," Ibarra said when asked what she would do if it closed. "My mom's been crying. I would cry — just so many memories here.”

Ibarra reached out to FOX 13 about the issue. When we called her for an interview, we asked if she knew anyone else who would be willing to speak about what makes the swap meet special.

Over the course of an hour, more than 30 people showed up all willing to speak, saying that their livelihoods depended on the drive-in staying open.

While we couldn’t interview everyone, the trend and the messages were clear: They need this place to survive.

Van Daele Homes, a California-based company, responded Friday to FOX 13's request for comment on the issue. Their statement reads:

While being presented with the opportunity to bring new, innovative and quality housing to West Valley City was an exciting prospect for our company and we looked forward to collaborating with local officials and residents to meet the community’s housing needs, we have decided that proceeding further with this opportunity would be inconsistent with our company’s values.

As a family builder who values the relationships we create and maintain, as well as our ability to partner with communities to meet their own unique housing needs, based on feedback from residents, Swap Meet booth operators and others concerned by this development, we have decided to avoid any disruption, economic or otherwise, to the sense of community in West Valley City and are withdrawing our development application effective immediately.

We understand that landmarks such as the Redwood Drive‐In and Swap Meet mean a great deal to many, and we would be remiss to continue if our presence disrupted rather than enhanced the neighborhood.

The company's website indicates that this would have been its first development in Utah.

Click here for more information about the planning commission meeting.