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SOUTH SALT LAKE - Progressive plans to remake Holladay's 57-acre Cottonwood Mall have created a buzz in Utah and in design circles nationwide.

Talk of the dramatic makeover has already caused adjacent property values to increase, according to City Councilman Grant Orton, speaking here Friday at Granite School District's South Salt Lake offices during a meeting of agencies affected by diverting Holladay tax money to help fund the project.

And some nationally recognized design publications have published articles touting the mall's proposed transformation, notes Kris Longson, vice president for development for Chicago-based General Growth Properties.

General Growth owns the old-style enclosed mall - now vacant except for anchor Macy's - and plans to tear down the fortress once asbestos abatement and other pre-demolition tasks have been completed.

In its place, General Growth plans to literally erect a town - with help from top urban designers, including RTKL and Duany Plater-Zyberk & Co.

"We don't want a stucco village," Longson says, adding that varied architecture will allow the community to have character from day one and to age timelessly.

Picture a plaza and main street at its center, filled with lower-level retail and office uses, and topped by residential lofts and a second-story theater.

Walkable neighborhood streets would branch off, populated with flats, condos, town homes and larger single-family homes as well.

Big Cottonwood Creek will be rerouted and widened, with landscaping and a trail alongside.

All totaled, the $552 million project will feature 534 residential units. Of that total cost, $176 million is for 700,000 square feet of retail, and $24.5 million for 100,000 square feet of office space. About 17 acres will be open, Longson says.

As a collaborative redevelopment project, General Growth is asking Holladay to bond for $65 million over 20 years to install the project's infrastructure, sewer and water lines, curbs and sidewalks.

Also, the city will need to install $10 million in support infrastructure outside the project's boundaries.

General Growth's goal is to have all commercial aspects of the project open by fall 2010, with the neighborhoods built in phases over the next four to 10 years, depending on what the market can bear. A significant amount of property- and sales-tax increment will be needed to bond for the project's infrastructure, says Bob Springmeyer of Salt Lake-based Bonneville Research.

Representatives of the city, Salt Lake County, the Granite School District and other taxing entities are still hashing out those details.