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Sugar House Journal

The New Sugar House

Dec 08, 2015 14h03 ● By Bryan Scott

By Elizabeth Suggs

Sugar House - Oct. 29 marked a historic day for Sugar House residents when it was announced that 28 years of redevelopment projects are complete. 

Sugar House has been under redevelopment for 28 years with the help of the RDA (redevelopment agency). Some of the RDA’s work includes the Irving Schoolhouse Apartments, Hidden Hollow, Commons at Sugar House, Sugar Beet Public Art, Urbana on Eleventh Condos, Sugar House S-Line Streetcar and the Sugar House Monument Plaza. 

“We wanted to show our appreciation to, and acknowledge, our Taxing Entity Committee for its 28 years of financial support,” D.J. Baxter, Redevelopment Agency of Salt Lake City director, said. “Without them, the RDA’s $26 million investment into Sugar House would not have been possible.” 

According to Baxter, the event went well because of the involvement from community leaders, elected officials, development teams and the RDA’s taxing agency partners. With so much interest, according to Baxter, it gave the RDA the opportunity to share their thoughts with the community. 

“In commemoration of the RDA’s time in Sugar House, we commissioned Sugar House watercolor artist Collen Reynolds to create a painting that illustrates the sunset of this formal partnership,” Baxter said.

A popular watercolor artist in Sugar House, Collen Reynolds, holds both classes and showcases of her work in Sugar House. 

“The painting shows the Sugar House monument standing tall with people walking on the expanded and renovated plaza. It will hang in the Sprague Library for all to enjoy,” Baxter said.

So, why did it take 28 years to redevelop Sugar House? According to Baxter, 28 years isn’t all that long. 

“Change takes time, especially when that change is a collaborative process between public, private and community entities,” Baxter said. “When you look at the big picture, it really hasn’t taken that long for Sugar House to increase in value.” 

According to Baxter, the assessed market value of the Sugar House Project Area in 1986 was $54.4 million, compared to last year’s value at $248.7 million, which is a 357 percent increase. Comparing that further with all of Salt Lake City, from 2007 to 2014, the city’s assessed market value increased by 80 percent.

“It’s pretty impressive for a little sugar beet neighborhood,” Baxter said. 

The vision of bringing a more “vibrant and walkable district,” according to Baxter, has been realized. This gives the RDA an opportunity to focus its efforts on North Temple, Granary District, West Temple Gateway, Central Business District and Depot District. 

One of the best parts about having the RDA leave Sugar House? According to Baxter, it’s the tax increment. 

“The bargain behind every RDA area is that we’ll use the incremental property taxes to reinvest in an area and attract new private investment to the area,” Baxter said. “Through these investments, the removal blight and the improvement in infrastructure, we attract investment and set the area on a new path.” 

When asked whether any development stood out in importance, Baxter declined to comment on just one RDA project. 

“There are a number of projects that deserve mention,” Baxter said. “For instance, the construction of the Commons at Sugar House redefined the new center for the Sugar House Business District, stabilized the property around Sprague Library and increased the appropriate use of Hidden Hollow.” 

According to Baxter, the RDA invested approximately $790,000 to preserve and restore Hidden Hollow -- that’s including landscaping, installation of irrigation, overhead and pedestrian lighting, and an observation deck along Parley’s Creek, terraced amphitheater, new pathways, boardwalks and trails throughout the area.