This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
It's eclectic and a bit funky, but Salt Lake City's little retail node at 2100 South and 2100 East could be in for a big makeover.
It could mean goodbye to the popular Blue Plate Diner, as well as Formosa Grill, Star 21 Salon, Hunan Garden and other small businesses on the northeast corner of the intersection. And that's got the attention of many Sugar House neighbors.
A proposed zone change is in the works that would clear the way for a mixed-use development, which would include 7,000 square feet of ground-level commercial space with about 250 apartments above it.
Depending on the zone change and project approval, it could reach five stories, or 55 feet in height.
The proposal by Thomas Fox Properties is a "hot-button issue," said Judi Short of the Sugar House Community Council. More than 200 residents attended a recent community council meeting, she said, and many voiced concerns about the plan.
The developer's first step calls for new zoning to allow additional height and density. The community council will vote Dec. 3 on whether to forward a positive or negative recommendation for a zone change to the Salt Lake City Planning Commission. Because the shift would require a master plan amendment, the City Council also would have to approve it.
If the zoning is changed, the project, itself, then would be considered by the Sugar House Community Council and, in turn, the Planning Commission.
Among the proposal's challenges is that the location the former site of a gas station and dry cleaner contains pollutants underground, Short explained. For the project to be approved, a developer would have to excavate 20 feet deep to clear out polluted soil.
Tom Hulbert of Thomas Fox Properties could not be reached for comment. However, according to Short, he told the community council that for the project to pencil out financially with the expensive excavation he would need to develop high-density housing. Parking would be underground.
Such a large development would not be good for the neighborhood, said Breck Mitchell of Star 21 Salon.
"This is a neighborhood," he said, "not a business district" like the area around 2100 South and Highland Drive, where new high-density developments have sprouted.
Many residents agree with Mitchell, according to City Councilwoman Lisa Adams, whose District 7 includes the south side of 2100 South at 2100 East across the street from the proposed development.
She has received about 80 emails concerning the proposal. "I have not had a single one in favor," she said. "Most say, 'We don't like what's there but we don't want five stories.' They want something more like [the small commercial area at] 1500 East and 1500 South."
Among other worries, she added, residents fear increased housing and the traffic it would bring.
For the past two decades would-be developers have bypassed the location because of the costly environmental cleanup that goes with it, said Council Chairman Charlie Luke, whose District 6 includes the north side of 2100 South at 2100 East. A new development would replace what he called the "eyesore" at the intersection's northeast corner.
"It's important to focus on the positives, as well as the negatives," he said. "Nothing is set in stone."
Luke noted that a formal building plan has yet to be submitted to city planners.
"It's early in the process for people to get upset," he said. "I hope we can avoid emotional reaction and focus on the facts."