SLC Council looks at development plans for west Salt Lake

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SALT LAKE CITY -- On the east side of Salt Lake City, business is always moving in and out of the intersection at 9th and 9th. But head 18 blocks to the west, and it’s just passing by.

“It’s got so much more potential than any other business node in the city. It’s just up to the city to help it come to life,” said Salt Lake City councilman Kyle LaMalfa, who represents District 2.

Since 2011, the city has been considering a new Master Plan for development on the west side of Salt Lake. The plan outlines a 25-year vision for the area, which LaMalfa believes will make it an attractive area to visit and live in the future.

“It’s not just a 9th and 9th west. It also has a river that runs through it,” LaMalfa said. “It’s got some high-density zoning. It’s got a park right next door, an international peace gardens.”

In the proposed plan for Glendale and Poplar Grove, empty areas along Redwood Road and the Jordan River would be the future home to restaurants, shops and recreational space.

Running alongside all of that is what used to be a former rail line known as the 9-Line. The city hopes to transform into a bike and pedestrian friendly route.

“People in the neighborhood are hungry for access to better retail, hungry for access to opportunities, like jobs and transportation,” LaMalfa said. “And this Master Plan lays out the best places in the neighborhood where those can go and be successful.”

Both projects mean years of development for the area, which many residents say is long overdue.  They addressed the council at a public hearing Tuesday night.

“There was a Master Plan in 1995. There was a Master Plan in 2004. There was a Master Plan in 2006. I don’t know where they are today. Are we going to wait another 25 years, or whatever, before anything gets done?” asked resident Jay Ingleby.

A younger generation in the audience felt that any change was positive for the west side of the city, citing problems of crime and violence they felt the east side lacks.

“Living on the west side forces you to have to grow up faster than usual because of the things we see and have to experience. In the next five years we’d like to see to more parks and recreational centers,” said one young woman, who goes to school in Rose Park.

While the Master Plan is a long-term vision for the area, city officials hope to begin implementing changes as soon as funding allows for it.

“I feel like we all need to have the same education as all the kids do from the east side, and just make everybody an equal whole,” said a second student, who resides in the Rose Park area.

However, by increasing development in their neighborhood, the goal isn’t just to become like the east side of the city, but rather a unique destination to the west.

“If we as the west side are trying to seek equality with the east side, we are setting our sights too low,” LaMalfa said.

The city hopes to adopt both plans within the next month.