As a long-time resident of the Fairpark area, I have been asked many times why I would even want to live in “such an area”. The West side of SLC for years has been a less desirable address in the eyes of some people. However, it seems things are changing, and property in this area has shown a new interest. Just as other areas, such as the Marmalade District, have seen a resurgence of development, so, too, our area is on the cusp of development.
The type of development in our area is something with which the current residents should be concerned. It is one of the last near-downtown areas of the Valley that still has affordable homes and larger residential lots. We enjoy spending time in our yards and gardens and feeling that we are still close to the attractions of Salt Lake City such as arts, education, and civic events. However, changes are happening all around us. You only need to look at what has happened near the intersection of North Temple and 600 West. Hundreds of apartments and Condominiums have gone up, forcing out the few homes that used to exist there. It seems that when there is any land available near us, a developer wants to put in as many people as possible.
We have been fortunate that current Zoning laws in the Greater Fairpark area have kept this development restricted, and we can still enjoy our homes and neighborhoods. However, development is starting to spread its gaze here. Currently, the old 29th Ward church building on the corner of 400 North and 1100 West has stood vacant for many years. The LDS Church could not find a reasonable, affordable use for the building and deeded it to the City. Recently, the city Housing and Development agency held some meetings concerning the disposal of this property. It is listed as a City Historical Site, so there are limits as to what I can be used for. The Agency floated the concept of changing the Zoning on that parcel to make it more attractive for a buyer. This is a dangerous step, as once the Zoning has changed, (in this case, to a mixed-use residential and commercial use), anything that fits that zoning description could be built. The emphasis of the agency representatives seemed to be turning it into multi-family residences. The lot is so small that to make it cost effective, the homes would be multi-level and very small square footage (sound like high-density apartments?)
The general feeling of the residents attending the meeting was that other possibilities ought to be explored WITHOUT changing the zoning. There are certain variances that can be taken in using a Historic Building that would not require changing the zoning. Among those, using the building for a Professional Office, Arts Organization, Charter School, or something similar. The location is close enough to Downtown or I-15 to make it convenient for this type of use.
Why should we be concerned about it? Because once it is gone, it can’t be replaced. (Isn’t that the argument used by those who want Wilderness Areas and National Parks?) We live in a community that was built with families in mind, and for people who have long-term plans to stay in their homes here. There is nothing inherently wrong with rental units, but studies show that those who own and reside in their own homes have a greater interest in their communities and are more willing to work for the better good of the area. We must do all we can to preserve the quiet neighborhood we now enjoy.
It is important for any of us who have such long-term plans and a desire to
keep our community “livable” to show interest in what is happening around us, and to become involved in any plans for the future. Before it is too late, let your voice be heard and let the City officials and developers know that this is a NICE neighborhood, and we want it to stay that way.
Roy Luker, Fairpark resident