This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Neighbors of Trolley Square were promised Wednesday that they will have a significant say in what gets built on a parking lot south of the historic Salt Lake City mall.
Mall owner and industrialist Khosrow Semnani told residents he hopes to build a mix of apartments and stores to benefit both Trolley Square and the surrounding neighborhood.
Trolley Square Ventures already has won an initial endorsement by the city's Planning Commission to rezone the parcels, with final review pending before the City Council.
But beyond those preliminary steps, the businessman told about 50 residents Wednesday, exact plans are yet to be decided.
"I don't have any preconceived ideas," Semnani assured the Central City Neighborhood Council. "I want you to know all the facts and we can make the right decision."
Semnani, who bought Trolley Square out of bankruptcy in 2013, said he would fund an analysis of what would best suit the site at 600 South near 700 East and then submit details for community input.
"You have my word," he said.
Final project details would need approval by planners and the city's Historic Landmark Commission, but some residents worry the new zoning could lead to development that clashes with adjacent properties and the neighborhood's character.
The Planning Commission has endorsed rezoning six residential parcels beneath Trolley Square's sky bridge to a new form-based zoning for urban neighborhoods. If the City Council signs off, the change could allow additional commercial uses, reduce setback requirements and raise maximum building heights to 50 feet from the current 35- to 45-foot cap.
Wednesday's presentation came after community leaders complained about a lack of public notice before Semnani's rezone request secured its initial approval in early March.
Michael Iverson, chairman of the Central City Neighborhood Council, said that due to an apparent quirk in city public-notice policies, he had no chance for in-depth comment on the rezone before the Planning Commission's March 9 vote.
Because the Trolley Square site falls near the boundary between the Central City and East Central neighborhood council districts, the city invited leaders and nearby residents to an informational open house at City Hall instead of notifying the affected community councils and giving them 45 days to respond.
"That is what is required in city code," senior city planner Lex Traughber said of the open house.
A nearby property owner has requested legal review of the notice process by the state's property rights ombudsman.
Resident Jack Davis, who is an attorney, said he sought the outside opinion in hopes of improving the city's outreach and education efforts on this and future rezone requests.
A spokesman for the ombudsman said his office was examining whether it had proper jurisdiction in the matter.