Salt Lakers who live or work in the Fairmont-Sugar House area know it's a great place and they aren't alone.
The nonprofit American Planning Association announced Wednesday that it is one of the country's "10 Great Neighborhoods" as part of its annual Great Places in America listing.
The area from 2100 South to Interstate 80 and from 700 East to 1300 East was recognized for public and private investment of $455 million, including a street car line to open in late 2013; a pedestrian passageway, also to be completed in 2013 that will connect the Sugar House commercial area with Hidden Hollow and Sugar House Park; and nearly 2 million square feet of additional retail office and residential development that is planned and will complement 1,000 residential units under way.
"There's so much to Sugar House you might call it a mini-Salt Lake City, an east-side community with a vibrant commercial center," according to the association. "And Fairmont-Sugar House affords awe-inspiring views of the Wasatch Mountains."
Launched in 2007, Great Places in America annually recognizes (10 in each category) exemplary streets, neighborhoods, and public spaces three essential components of all communities.
Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker lauded the Fairmont-Sugar House recognition and said it was "well deserved."
"Residents and city representatives have worked together closely to protect and enhance Fairmont's character while carefully planning for growth," he said in a prepared statement. "Now, all who live, work and do business in the area know it's one of the most charming areas of the city."
Becker pointed to the Sugar House streetcar project as a public investment that will attract private enterprise.
City Councilman Soren Simonsen, who has represented the area since 2006, said community groups and local businesses also have worked tirelessly to bring a new life to the area.
"When you see that level of public involvement, that's a form of social investment," he said in an interview. "I'm very excited about this honor."
The Sugar House-Fairmont neighborhood will continue to blossom into the foreseeable future, Simonsen said.
"The vision is well articulated in our planning documents," he said. "We'll see an infusion of new development, including housing and shopping."
The Great Places in America reflects the "diversity and resiliency of communities regardless of size or location," said W. Paul Farmer, chief executive of the American Planning Association.
"This year's honorees show what is possible when citizens, civic leaders, elected officials and planners commit themselves to protecting and enhancing these neighborhoods, streets and public spaces."
2012 Great Neighborhoods
Garden District, Baton Rouge, La.
Lower Highlands and Historic Downtown, Fall River, Mass.
Fells Point, Baltimore
Heritage Hill, Grand Rapids, Mich.
Downtown Salisbury, N.C.
Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia
Cooper-Young, Memphis, Tenn.
Fairmont-Sugar House, Salt Lake City
Beacon Hill, Seattle
Downtown Walla Walla, Wash.
Source: American Planning Association