Massive ‘Cairns’ development aims to create urban core in suburban Sandy

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SANDY -- City leaders broke ground on a multi-billion dollar downtown development project that attempts to create an urban core in this suburban community.

At a ribbon cutting ceremony on Monday, community and business leaders cheered the launch of "The Cairns," which will stretch from 9000 S. to 11400 S., and from I-15 to just west of State Street. The name was chosen as a reference to the rock pilings that indicate one is headed in the right direction, city officials said.

It will feature retail, housing and transit-oriented development. The Cairns will incorporate the South Towne Center Mall, a new freeway offramp and other development projects.

"We want to be a suburban-urban area in the sense that we need more people to move into Sandy," said Mayor Tom Dolan. "We need it for our tax base, we need it for the vitality of the area. We need it to bring the jobs here, the office buildings so people can live, work and play close to their jobs."

The Cairns development will encompass 1,100 acres (about 20 millions square feet) and is expected to cost billions. On Monday, ground was broken for "The Prestige," a 25-story residential development that will be the tallest building in Sandy when it is completed.

"We knew that there's a new type of population coming up," said Dan Simons, the president of Simons-Platt Creations, which is building the $75 million residential skyscraper. "The millenials and baby boomers. The studies showed that we needed to go up in the air and that we needed to create a city within a city, essentially."

Sandy has run out of land for large scale, single-family housing. The Cairns fits with the trend for more compact, urban development.

But city leaders insist they are not competing with downtown Salt Lake City, nor does downtown believe it's competing with Sandy.

"Downtown Salt Lake is the cultural, economic and entertainment center for all of Utah and the inter-mountain west -geographically centered between the U of U, State Capitol and airport," said Nick Como, a spokesman for the Downtown Alliance. "A density and diversity of world-class bars and restaurants in an urban center is something the suburbs cannot replicate. Studies show business looking to draw the working professionals of tomorrow are drawn to urban centers to live, work and play - a paradigm unique to downtown."

Russell Platt, the architect for The Prestige, told FOX 13 they believe that with tech development in Lehi and downtown, Sandy creates a central spot -- especially for those who don't want to pay downtown prices for real-estate.

"We're a fantastic alternative in the center of everything," he said.

The Cairns is a 20-year master plan. The Prestige is expected to be completed in 2016.