Story by CALI FELTS
After years of planning, the fate of Holladay’s Old Cottonwood Mall is still up for debate.
The town of Holladay is currently in the middle of a debate over real estate developer Ivory Homes and Woodbury Corporation’s third proposal to build a residential and commercial area to cover the empty land where the mall once stood.
Holladay city planners have been wondering what to do with the Old Cottonwood Mall, which was built in 1962, for a decade. Real estate developers had planned to demolish and rebuild Cottonwood Mall. For much of that time the mall stood mostly empty, except for a Macy’s Department Store, which finally left the site in 2017.
Since 2008, much of the lot has been sitting there empty waiting for either the proposed new mall to be built or for a different plan to be introduced. In 2017, Salt Lake City real estate developer Ivory Homes and Woodbury Corporation, which manages commercial real estate, tried to come up with a solution for the empty lot. They proposed to build a housing unit as well as an enclosed shopping area and restaurants.
But getting Holladay on board has been a challenge. Holladay residents have shouted down two of Ivory’s plans since last November. Holladay city officials have said that the buildings are too high and would cover Mt. Olympus.
Other Holladay residents like Harrison Creer want something done with the space. Creer supports the concept of doing something with the mall so it’s not a place where “high school kids go to mess around and do dumb stuff.”
“I am not a huge fan on the idea Ivory [Homes] wants to do for [the old Cottonwood Mall site], but it would be nice to have the eyesore gone,” he said.
In March, Ivory Homes and Woodbury Corporation released their third proposal for the remodel of the Old Cottonwood Mall land after hearing the complaints of the Holladay residents.
In a joint statement posted online the company said, “We heard you Holladay! Ivory Homes and Woodbury Corporation have made substantial changes to the original plans to develop the former Cottonwood Mall site in order to accommodate this great community.”
Developers have lowered the height of the proposed buildings, decreased the amount of homes, increased the size of the lots, expanded its commercial spaces and added more open space.
“We will do all this while maintaining Holladay’s unique feel and charm,” the companies said.
Cinda Taylor, a representative from Ivory Homes, in an interview highlighted the economic benefits for Holladay if the development goes through. She explained how Holladay needs the revenue generated the short and long-term investment this development would bring.
Taylor also explained how the new development would create a ‘Halo Effect’ for the city. This means that not only would it benefit the businesses being built in this development but surrounding businesses as well from the new residents, local workers and the ‘regional draw’ Holladay will have.
As a visual marker, Ivory Homes floated balloons to show how high the buildings would be. But not everyone is impressed. The balloons had completely covered the view of Mount Olympus which the residents did not appreciate.
“It makes me so sad to have a visual of what could potentially change the face of our quiet neighborhood forever,” Suzy Rasch, a Holladay resident, said.
Rasch has been an outspoken opponent of the redevelopment of the mall. She’s used social media to make her point and protested at Holladay Planning Commission meetings with signs, including one that read “Not this plan, High Rise? High Traffic.”
Ironically, the owners of Ivory Homes and Woodbury Corporation both live in Holladay near the Old Cottonwood Mall. The owners could not be reached for an interview.
Another Holladay resident, Cristie Briggs, says after going to a presentation for the new development her opinion has completely changed.
“I used to be 100 percent against but after seeing the newest plan and the way it was presented, I really loved it,” she said, adding that she liked the way the buildings look in drawings of the plans.