Developers debut renderings for redevelopment of former Shopko site

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Rendering of the southeast corner of the proposed Shopko Block development. Image courtesy Salt Lake City planning documents.
Rendering of the north face of the proposed Shopko Block development. Image courtesy Salt Lake City planning documents.

For many urban enthusiasts, it doesn’t get much better than seeing a suburban-style big box store and large surface parking lot get redeveloped into a higher density, mixed-used development.  Even in a construction-fatigued neighborhood like Sugar House, over 2,500 residents and community stakeholders participated in an online survey on best ways to redevelop the former Shopko site near 1300 East and Interstate 80.

Last week, developers Sentinel Development in collaboration with real estate investment company, Westport Capital Partners, debuted new project renderings on their promotional website for the proposed redevelopment of the Shopko site.

The development team initially released their tentative plans for the parcels last month, after collecting feedback from residents and stakeholders between since last December.  The initial project details mentioned that the project would be a mix of office and residential space and would include a new public street, the reopening of Stringham Avenue.

Updated renderings and project info reveal more details about the project that will replace 9 acres of underutilized land near the heart of Sugar House.  The project will add two new east-to-west streets to the north and south of the development that will connect Highland Drive to 1300 East.

According to renderings and project details submitted to the city, the project will consist of three buildings, two commercial and one residential,  and a large parking structure.

The largest of the proposed commercial buildings, referred to as Building A, will be located at the northern end of the project area, near 1300 East.  That building will be five stories with 170,000 square feet of office space.  The building will house a University of Utah health center that will offer full outpatient services, including the Moran Eye Center, primary care, radiology, urgent care and specialist services.

The health center was originally planned for the proposed Dixon Building, planned for the area just north the of the Vue at Sugar House Crossing on Highland Drive.  The site plans for the Dixon Building, by developer Craig Mecham Management, will be reconfigured to no longer include plans for the health center and will focus solely on traditional office space.

Building B is a proposed six-story, 150,000 square foot commercial building that will be just south of Building A.  The building will have frontage on the rear street facing the freeway instead of fronting Stringham Avenue, the more prominent street that will be added to the project’s northern “front” face. Instead, the parking structure will front Stringham Avenue with Building B sitting atop the parking podium with a significant setback from Stringham with the podium’s roof acting as a surface parking lot separating Building B from the more prominent street to the north.

Instead, the parking structure will front Stringham Avenue with Building B sitting atop the parking podium with a significant setback from Stringham with the podium’s roof acting as a surface parking lot separating Building B from the more prominent street to the north.

Building A will also sit atop the large parking podium, yet Building A has street frontage on at least three sides.

Building C will be a seven-story residential building that with five wood-framed floors atop a two-story parking podium.  The building will consist of approximately 200 units.  The wood-framed levels will be setback at the podium level with small retail space available at the north end of the building fronting Stringham Avenue.

The developers will need to go before the Salt Lake City Planning Commission for a Conditional Building and Site Design Review (CBSDR).  The Shopko project will be one of the several large-scale Sugar House projects to go before the planning commission in recent months.  The commission scrutinized the ground floor details and street interaction of two other nearby projects, the Sugarmont Apartments and the Dixon Building, before granting final approval.

Rendering of the northeast corner of the proposed Shopko Block development. Image courtesy Salt Lake City planning documents.
The site plan for the redevelopment of the Shopko Block. Image courtesy
About Isaac Riddle 521 Articles
Isaac Riddle grew up just outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. He has a BA in English literature from the University of Utah and a Masters of Journalism from Temple University. Isaac has written for Next City, The Philadelphia Public School Notebook and Salt Lake City Weekly. Before embarking on a career in journalism, Isaac taught High School English in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia. Isaac is the founder of Building Salt Lake and can be reached at isaac@buildingsaltlake.com.
  • Soren Simonsen

    This is still pretty much suburban.

  • BigWhiteGrannyPanties

    THIS IS HORRIBLE.
    THIS IS UGLY
    THIS IS NOT WALKABLE.
    THIS IS NOT IN KEEPING WITH THE LOOK OF THE HISTORIC NEIGHBORHOOD.
    So, you didn’t read the surveys we all filled out?
    This is terrible.
    I didn’t move here in order to live in Anytown, Ugly, Suburbia USA
    We don’t NEED more High Density Apartments – the traffic is horrible.
    And all that modern glass.
    Thanks for NOTHING CRAIG.

  • Bailey

    This is disgusting. No consideration taken for pedestrians at all, just one big ugly parking garage and zero street frontage. Why do developers think this car-oriented model still works? Where do I protest against this heaping pile of garbage?

  • Benjamin Wheeler

    As an Urban Planning and Architecture student, I’m constantly confused as to how this kind of suburban trash keeps getting past the planning commission. This almost goes against everything that the project sought out to improve. There is no character or added pedestrian experience that looks noteworthy and the parking structure just makes me want to jump off of it… oh wait, I would land safely on my feet because it’s so close to the ground. The site needs development, but this is nothing unlike what you would see in Sandy.

  • Bailey

    Hell, even Sandy has been making the effort to get rid of garbage like this. The Cairns project is coming along nicely as far as promoting walkability, ground-floor retail, street frontage, minimal surface parking… if you want to talk bad development, look at SoJo Station at the South Jordan FR Station.

  • cqhansen

    As retail dwindles it seems the only thing developers want to build now is health related or apartments to leach cash from the poor to give to the uber rich. Can’t wait to see plans for 21st and 21st, probably more of the same. All we really wanted was a Target and trees and then let Sugarhouse be eclectic and NO CHAIN STORES. Now what we see is more of the same that supports big business at the expense of the neighborhoods. Honestly, I’d rather see Shopko than this, and that is saying something!

  • RIP_SugarHouse

    Haha they’re pretty much just repeatedly kicking the corpse of what was once the charming neighborhood of Sugar House.

  • Soren Simonsen

    This has not been approved by the Planning Commission, but may be presented to the Commission soon.

  • Soren Simonsen

    Target is a chain store. University of Utah Health Clinic is a local business.

  • Soren Simonsen

    We do need higher density. We have enough kids growing up in Sugar House today to double the population in the next decade. We can’t rely on them moving to the suburbs, as was the case for the last two generations. The suburbs have enough kids of their own.

    We do need higher density to curb urban sprawl. But this is not the higher density we need. This is still a suburban proposal. It has no place in Sugar House.

  • Soren Simonsen

    The adopted plan for the Sugar House Shopping Center (which includes the ShopKo site) calls for re-establishing the historic grid of streets — Wilmington, Stringham, Simpson, Ashton running east and west, and Elizabeth, 1200 E, and Douglas running north and south. See http://www.slcdocs.com/transportation/Plans/SugarHouseCirculationPlan_FINAL.pdf, page 3. The developments already underway and this new proposed development, mostly ignore this.

    We only get one shot at this. Development at this intensity will be set for 100 years. Who is taking responsibility to make sure it happens well?

  • JB_Hooligan

    Because we are running desperately low on oversized alters of corporate-worship. And there’s clearly not enough traffic here either. I sure hope they give the profiteers some hefty tax breaks to further the ruination of Sugarhouse…

  • capc

    The only street this addresses is the freeway. And how is this mixed use? I see an apartment building and two office buildings. The ground floors of the buildings need to be to a pedestrian scale and actual be mixed use with restaurants and retail on the ground flooor that are accessible without walking through or over a garage. This design belongs in a research park, not downtown Sugarhouse.

  • JenniKK

    Yuck yuck yuck. Why are so many trying to completely destroy the unique character of Sugarhouse? This is even worse than the Big Box Store and parking lot it’s replacing. This could be a unique opportunity to make something that fits in with Sugarhouse charm rather than compete with Mecham for more hideous developments in the area.

  • SaltLakeTrib

    “large surface parking lot” Great for that walkable Pedstrian-friendly Urban Renewal Vision we were hearing a lot about, if you’re Developer trying to peddle a piece of crap. This cannot be approved by the Commission. And the Health Center just like Government Buildings create ‘dead zones’ where no economic growth is generated from increased pedestrian flow. But you guys already knew that.

  • David Dixon

    As the architect for the project, I would like to offer some comments to provide a better understanding of the development as most of the comments I read are based on preliminary renderings and a brief description. Also, understand that this is a work-in-progress. Obviously, if you oppose higher density mixed-uses in Sugar House, you need to work on changing the master plans and ordinances that guide development. The residential component is a requirement of the ordinance as an offset to the office space. The project contains a healthy mix of office, medical, residential and retail development at an urban density.

    Here are some things to consider:

    From a traffic standpoint, the development fulfills the City’s desire to restore Stringham Avenue and recently completed traffic studies show that that will do much to improve circulation in the area. Also, much has been done to enhance the pedestrian experience and walkability of that new street that isn’t obvious in the preliminary renderings. Public improvements include wide sidewalks on both sides of the street with pavers and street trees, public art, raised planters, places for people, decorative lighting, traffic calming measures and connectivity. This is a private street, but is being developed to exceed City requirements. It also includes landscaped islands, a clock tower in the art deco style similar to the monument on 2100 South, and a new facade on the back of the existing retail building that had shared a wall with ShopKo. The facade will have a gallery of large reproductions of vintage photos of Sugar House printed on metal panels with seating areas and generous landscaping in between. Earlier attempts were made to include retail development on that side of the street, but it was opposed by the owners of the existing retail center as it would limit their ability to front on the street in the future when they redevelop. Likewise, Ashton Avenue is being redeveloped and enhanced as a bicycle route as suggested in the City’s master plan with a new ten feet wide concrete path from east to west. Also included is a cyclist resting spot with a drinking fountain, water bottle filling station, seating, and entrances to the buildings for cyclists with generous secure bicycle parking stalls.

    From an urban design standpoint, the base of the residential building on Stringham is designed as retail storefronts with the building above stepped back as required to maintain a pedestrian scale. The parking is mostly underground and is being designed to be fronted on Stringham with a retail facade and uses in scale with the adjoining retail uses. In general, the parking will not be visible from the street except for its entrances. Again, the retail components fronting Stringham are a work in progress. The medical office building on the east will also display its retail uses on the main floor (pharmacy, optical shop, deli) with the upper stories stepped back from the street. An entrance to that building is being added on Stringham. The intent is to maintain active uses on the building’s street level facades at a pedestrian scale. Everything on Stringham Avenue has been designed around walkability, visibility, safety, and connectivity.

    Several studies were done to determine the best placement for the center office building. Not everyone will agree with our opinion, but when we placed it on Stringham, it created a dark, narrow street without adequate visible drop-off entrances for the U of U Health Center and the views out of the buildings were mostly looking directly at the adjacent buildings. By placing the large office building on the Freeway side of the block and maintaining low-rise retail uses on Stringham, brought light and openness to the narrow street and preserved views of the Wasatch mountains and other unique views to the site. It also provided better wayfinding to the buildings, adequate stacking for patient drop-off and pick-up, and a better appearance of the project from the freeway side, showcasing its class A office building and using it as a buffer for the development from I-80.

    Currently, we are working to enhance the pedestrian connectivity of the office building to the retail center to the north with landscaped walkways and other landscape features on the top level of the parking plaza. Building facades are being refined with various materials being investigated. I wouldn’t classify the development as suburban just because we positioned low-rise retail storefronts on the north side and a high-rise on the south side of the block. To the contrary, stepping the buildings down from the south to the north, with the parking in the center helps maintain the community scale and activities along Stringham with the more intense, regional draw components where they belong, at the freeway side. I would agree that if the development had the parking garage without a retail facade on Stringham and lacked pedestrian connectivity, that it would be inappropriate, but that is not the case.

    Working with a developer that is willing to pay for underground parking, extensive street improvements, and class A buildings that will likely qualify for LEED Silver Certification is notable. Having the U of U Hospital, one of the top medical educational institutions in the country, often rated higher than the Mayo Clinic, provide one of their largest centers in this community will provide great medical services and employment opportunities for locals and reduce traffic through the community to the University Hospital.

    We will never please everyone, but I think the design is working out much better than many of Salt Lake’s urban developments with fully exposed, above-grade parking garages and limited ground-level uses. We don’t claim to have all of the answers, but we are listening and responding as appropriate to make the project all it can be from a design and marketability standpoint. We welcome constructive input from informed respondents.

    Dave Dixon, AIA

  • Ian Bradley

    I don’t know. Sandy’s ‘downtown’ isn’t walkable at all. Its littered with these kind of buildings with tons of ground parking.

  • Ian Bradley

    For those who say this does nothing for pedestrians, clearly you have never walked through the parking lot that is there currently (no pedestrian sidewalks, save for along the vast perimeter). Adding the access road and the sidewalks the article mentions and depicts makes this WAY better then what is there currently.

  • David Dixon

    As the architect for the project, I would like to offer some comments to provide a better understanding of the development as most of the comments I read are based on preliminary renderings and a brief description. Also, understand that this is a work-in-progress. Obviously, if you oppose higher density mixed-uses in Sugar House, you need to work on changing the master plans and ordinances that guide development. The residential component is a requirement of the ordinance as an offset to the office space. The project contains a healthy mix of office, medical, residential and retail development at an urban density.

    Here are some things to consider:
    From a traffic standpoint, the development fulfills the City’s desire to restore Stringham Avenue and recently completed traffic studies show that that will do much to improve circulation in the area. Also, much has been done to enhance the pedestrian experience and walkability of that new street that isn’t obvious in the preliminary renderings. Public improvements include wide sidewalks on both sides of the street with pavers and street trees, public art, raised planters, places for people, decorative lighting, traffic calming measures and
    connectivity. This is a private street, but is being developed to exceed City requirements. It also includes landscaped islands, a clock tower in the art deco style similar to the monument on 2100 South, and a new facade on the back of the existing retail building that had shared a wall with ShopKo. The facade will have a gallery of large reproductions of vintage photos of Sugar House printed on metal panels with seating areas and generous landscaping in between.

    Earlier attempts were made to include retail development on that side of the street, but it was opposed by the owners of the existing retail center as it could limit their ability to front on the street in the future when they redevelop. Likewise, Ashton Avenue is being redeveloped and enhanced as a bicycle route as suggested in the City’s master plan with a new ten feet wide
    concrete path from east to west. Also included is a cyclist resting spot with a drinking fountain, water bottle filling station, seating, and entrances to the buildings for cyclists with generous secure bicycle parking stalls.

    From an urban design standpoint, the base of the residential building on Stringham is designed as retail storefronts with the building above stepped back as required to maintain a pedestrian scale. The parking for the project is mostly underground with only about 15% of the stalls exposed on the top level which will accommodate taller vehicles that can’t use the garage and direct drivers to the drop-off entrances. The parking structure is being designed to be fronted on Stringham with a retail facade and uses in scale with the adjoining retail uses. In general, the parking will not be visible from the street except at its entrances. Again, the retail components fronting Stringham are a work in progress. The medical office building on the east will also display its retail uses on the main floor (pharmacy, optical shop, deli) with the upper stories stepped back from the street. An entrance to that building is being added on Stringham. The intent is to maintain active uses on the building’s street level facades at a pedestrian scale. Everything on Stringham Avenue has been designed around walkability, visibility, safety, and connectivity.

    Several studies were done to determine the best placement for the center office building.
    Not everyone will agree with our opinion, but when we placed it on Stringham, it created a dark, narrow street without adequate visible drop-off entrances for the U of U Health Center and the views out of the buildings were mostly looking directly at the adjacent buildings. Placing the large office building on the Freeway side of the block and maintaining low-rise retail uses on Stringham, brought light and openness to the narrow street and preserved views of the Wasatch mountains and other unique views both in and out of the site. It also provided better wayfinding to the buildings, adequate stacking for patient drop-off and
    pick-up, and a better appearance of the project from the freeway side, showcasing its class A office building and using it as a buffer for the development from I-80.

    Currently, we are working to enhance the pedestrian connectivity of the office building to the retail center to the north with landscaped walkways and other landscape features on the top level of the parking plaza. Building facades are being refined with various materials being investigated. I wouldn’t classify the development as suburban just because we positioned low-rise retail storefronts on the north side and a high-rise on the south side of the block. To the contrary, stepping the buildings down from the south to the north, with the parking in the center helps maintain the community scale and activities along Stringham with the more intense, regional draw components where they belong, at the freeway side. I would agree that if the development had the parking garage without a retail facade on Stringham and lacked pedestrian connectivity, that it would be inappropriate, but that is not the case.

    We will never please everyone and we don’t claim to have all of the answers, but we are listening and responding as appropriate to make the project all it can be from a design and marketability standpoint. We welcome constructive input from informed respondents.

  • Bailey

    The recent development is helping to solve the walkability issue. I live in one of the new TODs at the TRAX station there, don’t own a car or a bike, and I do just fine. 20-minute walk at most to anything I need.

  • Where is there ground-level retail in the Sandy developments? It’s definitely an upgrade for their downtown, but the retail portion and walkability seems to be lacking.

  • How soon can you begin working for the commission? 🙂

  • I agree with most of this, but we actually do need more high-density residential. There’s 50k new residents every year in the Wasatch Front, and Salt Lake is an actual city which means it should do actual urban things.

  • It’s better but it could be WAY better. SLC needs to focus on real quality developments, and not on just being marginally better than before.

  • So you guys wanted another big box chain store and some trees? This small-time, suburban culture of Sugarhouse and SLC needs to change.

  • Bailey

    Ground-level retail will be introduced in the next phase of the East Village, as well as new developments downtown afaik. I’ll be confirming details soon with the planning commission, as the plans change often, but it’s been guaranteed at least in the East Village directly adjacent to the TRAX station.

  • Ian Bradley

    Since it includes both residential and commercial office space, that is literally the definition of mixed use. Also, if you pick up a newspaper, you will understand that retail is not exactly the best investment right now. Many analysts are predicting hundreds of millions of square feet of retail will become vacant nationwide, as people shift to fully online shopping (even food and groceries).

  • Ian Bradley

    I love how you discuss the dwindling of retail and then immediately launch into having virtually identical (if not worse) retail: Target (Can you really get any bigger business than that). Also, I don’t see anything in this that leaches anything. Shopko went out of business!!! Obviously nobody shopped there (the parking lot was always nearly empty). To add something like a Clinic serves and benefits the entire community.

  • capc

    In the planning zoning sense, yes it’s mixed use, like any city is mixed use. I’m referring to the individual buildings being mixed use. The advantage of having mixed use in a building is it encourages pedestrian traffic at the ground level and streets as well as community interaction. I think your assumption that people will shift to fully online shopping so therefore we shouldn’t develop any retail is a bit short sighted. There will always be a need for retail space. It may not look like it looks now, but people will want to get off their computers and do something, it may just not be go to Macy’s.