Whenever Steve Jones drove by the northwest corner of 9400 South and 1300 East, he envisioned developing the 22-acre area for retailers and business offices.
A supermarket, office and retail space and fast-food franchises would boost Sandy's economy and attract other developers, he thought.After finding four other people who shared his vision, negotiating for more than 18 months with the city Planning Commission and changing proposals to accommodate citizen complaints, Jones celebrated victory Tuesday night. The City Council gave its OK for more than 10,000 square feet of retail space in the project.
And though council members, in a 4-3 vote, approved the conditional-use permit with support from Mayor Lawrence Smith, they did so without the blessings of the Planning Commission, Sandy Mall property managers and several residents who cried out against the decision, shouting, "How much did they pay you?"
The controversial development - surrounded by existing single family homes on the north, 1300 East, 9400 South and a gravel pit on the west - will house a mix of office space, retail stores, a supermarket, furniture store, two fast-food restaurants and a bookstore, said Jones, who has $17 million in financial backing and several "big-name" tenants.
Included in the project plans are a six-foot tall masonry wall as a buffer for neighboring residential homes and adding deceleration lanes and medians to improve traffic on 9400 South and 1300 East.
Regardless of such measures, residents worry that adding another retail development will only aggravate traffic congestion in the area.
Susan Alexander, 9554 S. 1380 East, said she represented more than 40 residents and spoke against bringing in another grocery store because it wouldn't survive the competition. After speaking with managers of five local grocery stores, Alexander said they "all were surprised that another market would be added." She suggested putting in a retirement home or other non-retail project.
But Jones and city councilmen Ron Gee, John Winder and Dennis Tenney said increased traffic volume is inevitable, regardless of development.
"I think whatever occurs on that ground there will be a traffic problem," Tenney said.
Once tenants move into the area, the potential increase of traffic is five more cars per minute, Jones said.
"That's hardly a blink. Five years from now it will be busier even if nothing goes in," Jones said. The deceleration lanes and medians should minimize traffic problems, he said.
Another resident, who said she represented 250 households, opposed the project, citing an already high density of grocery stores and shops and high vacancy rates at the nearby Sandy Mall and South Towne Mall.
But several residents along the north border of the proposed retail area favor the project. Spokesperson Randy Johnson, of 1252 E. Keith Dr., said many residents realize change is inevitable and that their homes will feel the impact regardless of how the property is developed. Therefore, they want to cooperate as long as the impact is minimized and buildings are "aesthetically pleasing."
The City Council's motion will be finalized in two weeks.