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South Salt Lake Journal

SSL application approval could mean millions coming to city coffers

Feb 09, 2024 03:29PM ● By Travis Barton

Millions in reinvestment could come to two of South Salt Lake’s transit areas over the next 20 years the city’s application was approved. (South Salt Lake)

An estimated $185 million over the next 20 years. 

That’s how much money Mayor Cherie Wood said could come to the city’s downtown area after its HTRZ (housing and transit reinvestment zone) application was unanimously approved in December. 

Wood described it as “a big win” for South Salt Lake in comments made during the Jan. 10 city council meeting. 

“I’m grateful to HTRZ committee for seeing our vision and for providing the tools and resources to bring much needed housing, community, amenities and vibrance to downtown South Salt Lake City,” she said. “This is just the beginning.”

In 2021 the HTRZ Act was approved by the state legislature that aims to provide funding for cities to work with developers to address a lack of housing and affordable housing around transit hubs in Utah. 

The application’s approval is expected to have significant implications for the city’s downtown redevelopment around the Central Pointe Station and Main Street S Line Station. This will help more high density like apartments, condos and townhomes be built next to the already established public transportation stations. This is meant to include affordable housing options as the city works with developers. 

As part of the property tax increment that will come from such projects, city officials indicated in addition to the residential buildings, the area will need public gathering spaces, more walking and biking paths connecting to existing transit or regional paths, and streetscaping to beautify the area. 

Its application highlighted why South Salt Lake at this point in time is right for this type of funding. The city, as noted by Community and Economic Development Director Jonathan Weidenhamer in a November presentation, has long lacked areas for such development due to the tax-exempt regional facilities like the jail and homeless resource center, along with large stretches of freeways, railroads and surface streets. Those take up 31% of the city’s footprint, according to the application. 

Because of that, the application notes the city has historically struggled to generate sufficient sales tax revenue leading to decade-long efforts to bring in retailers like WinCo Foods, to establish state tax revenues. 

The application also underlines South Salt Lake’s history of industry with many manufacturing and light-industrial buildings along the rail lines and freeways well-suited for redevelopment. 

“We have a historic opportunity to unlock and revitalize this critically located real estate,” city officials write in its application. 

The city’s proposal also highlights its ability to be a place where residents can live in a range of incomes, work at nearby major employers, move with nearby available transit and play as it increases recreation and leisure opportunities. It also argues more strategic development is encouraged as well as improving water conservation and air quality through land use efficiency and reduced fuel consumption. 

Wood said staff worked for over a year to appear before the board and seek approval. 

The HTRZ board includes state legislative members and the governor’s office. 

Councilmember Clarissa Williams noted other cities are trying to start the HTRZ process and follow South Salt Lake’s lead. 

“[South Salt Lake has] become leaders in a lot of different things, not only the homeless resource officers but also the things we have in this city that other cities are trying to accomplish.” λ