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Murray Journal

New Murray projects and guidelines move forward as moratorium ends

Dec 06, 2021 03:15PM ● By Shaun Delliskave

The Pointe@53rd will be the first to have the new CMU zoning designation. (Shaun Delliskave/City Journals)

By Shaun Delliskave | [email protected]

Anxiety and mixed-use development have come hand-in-hand to Murray. In February, so many mixed-use projects were being proposed for Murray’s retail sites that the city enacted a six-month moratorium. The city then studied the issue and proposed new regulations to guide the developers, avoid overwhelming city services, and maintain the character makeup of Murray’s neighborhoods.

With the moratorium in the sunset and new guidelines set in place, developers have begun submitting proposals to transform the former RC Willey site and the current Pointe@53rd into mixed commercial retail and high-density residential projects. 

New guidelines or not, Murray residents living near the proposed developments have expressed concerns to Murray City’s Planning Commission regarding the potential impacts on their communities.

Village Mixed-Use for Winchester Street Project

At the Oct. 21 Planning Commission meeting, city planners considered a zoning map adjustment for the vacant RC Willey building at 861 E. Winchester St. The Boyer Company, which purchased the property, seeks to replace the current structure with a mixed-use redevelopment. 

Murray City designated a new Village Mixed-Use (VMU) zone for this proposal. The amount of residential density is reduced under a VMU to 25-35 units per acre, which is substantially less than the previous zoning map categories.

“In a perfect world, would we select these? No, but I think we can live with these, and I think you know it paints us into a corner as far as what we can do on the side and makes us think long and hard about some of these units. Just as an example, initially, we were looking at 350-400 units; at this point, we’re down in the 240 range. So, our density is almost half,” Boyer Company partner Spencer Moffat said. 

Neighbors from the surrounding community expressed opposition to the project, based on safety and traffic concerns. Misinformation also generated some comments on whether this was going to be a low-income housing project; however, Boyer Company has only requested a zoning change and has not submitted formal site plans.

“I help students graduate who are behind on credits, and in all the meetings I’ve been to, they say that the reason my job was created was because of the rezoning. And the demographics…are changing in Murray. So, I feel like you guys have the responsibility of deciding what kind of city you want and voting for that,” Jennifer Horne told the commission.

The Planning Commission voted five to two to recommend the zoning map change to the city council.

Centers Mixed-Use for The Pointe@53rd

Another major project that stalled due to the moratorium is Howland Partner’s redevelopment of The Pointe@53rd. City planners recommended rezoning this property as Centers Mixed-Use (CMU). CMU differs from VMU, as these properties sit along major transportation corridors, in this case, State Street.

Also, among all things, CMU differs in residential density, allowing 35-45 units per acre, which is less than what the previous zoning map would have allowed.

Currently, the property is zoned commercial and prohibits residential housing. The site, located at State Street and 5300 South, is identified in the 2017 General Plan as a “Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Station Village.” At this time, Utah has two operating BRT lines operating in Provo and West Valley. 

“We want to build. We want the citizens’ input. We want the city’s input. We want to build a beautiful project that becomes an icon for Murray City,” Howland Partner’s CEO Gary Howland said.

“I think that this small commercial (zoning) is the wave of the future. I think we’re going to see a lot more requests for this. If you look around, we’re probably behind the times when it comes to this type of development, and I think that, from my perspective, what a great one out of the gate,” Planning Commissioner Jeremy Lowry said.

Howland has yet to announce the number of units he intends for the site, but the property’s size, under the CMU, would allow for hundreds of units. The Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend approval to the city council.

4800 Lofts Project

Submitted in 2019, before the moratorium but put off until October 2021 for review, is the 4800 Lofts project proposal. Due to the development’s submission date, the project was reviewed under the 2019 Mixed-Use Zone regulation.

The project will bring a proposed 371 multi-family dwellings and 18,571 feet of commercial space to the vacant lot north of the former 49th Street Galleria, on Galleria Drive. Developers will also incorporate a parcel on 447 W. 4800 South and connect the properties to become the “4800 Lofts.” 

“4800 Lofts is as urban and cool as possible. It sets a new standard for other developers and cities to emulate, becoming the pride of Murray City,” applicants John Thomas and Kyle Denos said.

The Planning Commission unanimously approved the Master Site Plan to allow the construction of the new Mixed-Use project.