A little over 27 years ago, developers negotiated with the city and RDA to develop the land and I-80 freeway exit in Sugar House. Part of the plan was to close off two streets and create the Sugar House shopping area we all know. Despite this, developers are again working on changing the shopping center. The days of Shopko and its large parking lot have come to an end. Soon, demolition of the Shopko will begin, and a new rebirth of the space will start to take place.
Many of us who live in Sugar House have had some growing pains over the years with new, bold projects, and this new project won’t be any different. From the “sugar hole” to the Vue, from Shooters bar to Wilmington Flats—change is what Sugar House is today.
Shopko was the anchor tenant of the Sugar House shopping center in 1990. The original Shopko developer negotiated with the city to eliminate parts of Ashton Avenue and Stringham Avenue and some 45 homes to make way for the Shopko and surrounding buildings. As bold as that was back then, this new development will yet again change the use and skyline of Sugar House.
On January 27, 2017, the Shopko in Sugar House closed in preparation for a major redevelopment project. The Shopko building is currently owned by Westport Capital Partners, LLC, a real estate investment firm based out of California. In late 2016, the community was alerted to the closing of Shopko.
Westport Capital reached out to the community through the public involvement firm Wilkinson Ferrari & Co., who engaged local businesses, residents, and organizations like the Sugar House Chamber of Commerce and the Sugar House Community Council to discuss opportunities for the project and get feedback on what type of development would be best for the area. The report on the community engagement process can be found here.
In February, representatives from the Westport Capital Team presented the Sugar House Chamber of Commerce and Sugar House Community Council with a preliminary site plan. Some of the ideas discussed for the site include two new office buildings, a multi-level parking structure, some street level retail, and a multi-family housing project at the west end of the development. A key feature of the development will include the creation of a new street reconnecting Highland Drive and 1300 East. Early traffic studies show this new street will provide easy access to and from the freeway, and improve traffic flow following development, reducing congestion throughout the entire Sugar House area. Click here to view the project map.
Chairman of the Sugar House Community Council, Landon Clark, stated that “They [Westport Capital and Wilkinson-Ferrari] have done an outstanding job of taking into account public input with this project. I think people are excited about this project from breaking up the block and sea of concrete to reconnecting Stringham.“
There are very mixed feelings from the community as many longtime residents have wanted small, quaint developments that matched the old feeling of Sugar House. Many of these new developments are anything but small, let alone quaint.
Let’s hope that whatever comes of this new development, and others like it, are good for the community and can survive longer than the 27 years of Shopko.
Monique and Jeremy Higginson, owners/brokers for Market Source Real Estate.
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