July 27, 2008

Sandy Looks to Give a Lift to Its Skyline

By Rosemary Winters, The Salt Lake Tribune

Jul. 27--Sandy could grow to new heights.

Still weighing a code change to allow the burb's first 30- to 40-story skyscrapers as part of the planned Proscenium development, the Sandy City Council could allow 15-story buildings across the board in the central business district.

Currently, building heights in the district, which spans the Interstate 15 corridor from the South Towne Exposition Center near 9400 South to the South Towne Mall near 10600 South, are capped at 140 feet, or about 10 stories.

The council is considering extending that limit to around 200 feet, or roughly 15 stories.

"Besides The Proscenium, maybe we should allow greater height, in general," says Assistant Community Development Director Nick Duerksen. "We don't know that going above 140 feet is a bad thing."

A switch to 15 stories could mean taller office buildings on four undeveloped parcels near the Expo Center, Duerksen says, but the change would not help Orem-based Proscenium Development Inc.

Plans for the first of three, mixed-use towers near Interstate 15 and 10000 South have leapt from 30 stories to 40 stories. Sandy's planning staff is crafting a new zone that could accommodate a 500-foot-plus building.

"I don't think we'll see a lot more taller buildings. The Proscenium is probably a unique situation," City Councilman Bryant Anderson says. "It has a lot of significance to the city as an icon, especially with the arts district tied in."

The $560 million Proscenium would be built in three phases. The first phase, expected to open by fall 2010, would feature a 2,400-plus-seat Broadway-style playhouse, a performing-arts high school, a 500-seat venue and a black box theater in addition to a 40-story tower with office space, a hotel and condos.

Despite the dramatic makeover in store for Sandy's skyline, few residents have participated in public-comment periods on the topic.

Kim Lane, who lives in a neighborhood near The Proscenium site, has called the towers an environmental "blight" that would obscure Sandy's mountain views.

Cathy Spuck, the lone commentator at a recent hearing who worried about a "concrete jungle," is pleased council members have backed away from an ordinance that would have allowed builders, including Proscenium Development, to break the height limit with the approval of the Planning Commission.

"They've taken the time to really consider some other factors and look at it thoroughly," she says.

After attending a few meetings, Spuck no longer opposes a 40-story high-rise in Sandy because she agrees with the developer that it's the most cost-effective use of the land.

"I'm still concerned that I'm really the only one showing up to investigate," she adds. "I'd love to see more citizens get involved."

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What's next

--At 7 p.m. on Tuesday , Sandy's City Council plans to consider a code change to allow additional height, perhaps 15 stories, or 200 feet, in the city's central business district. The meeting is at City Hall, 10000 S. Centennial Parkway (170 West).

--Sandy staff is crafting special zoning -- allowing even taller buildings -- for The Proscenium project's planned 30- to 40-story high-rises. The Planning Commission could review the ordinance as soon as Aug. 7. After that, it would go to the City Council for approval.


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