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The Home Depot is under contract on a new store in Salt Lake City, an attorney representing the company said this week.
The store could be located between 400 and 500 South on 500 West and would be about half the footprint as the company’s other stores in the region.
That is, if the city’s proposed updates to building heights and street activation don’t stop that from happening. The scenario will test the city’s appetite for tax revenue from what is essentially a cash cow with its desire to extend its urban area near its most bustling urban core.
Justin Matkin, an attorney representing Home Depot, warned the Salt Lake City Council this week that the proposed changes in the General Commercial zone for midblock walkways would impede the development.
“The problem with the application of the downtown building height and street activation update [is] it would essentially make permitted uses within the general district impossible to carry out,” Matkin said on Tuesday. “In this case, for instance the Home Depot store located within the city block would require a midblock walkway through the middle of the store, which would make that essentially impossible. You can’t have a walkway through the middle of a store.”
The city is considering requiring midblock walkways that effectively break up Salt Lake City’s outsized blocks, which are much larger than most urban areas.
Neighborhoods within certain areas must provide a minimum 15-foot wide walkway with at least a 6-foot wide unobstructed path under the guidelines, which are at the final stages of the public hearing process and awaiting action by the Council.
The changes also broadly allow for taller buildings throughout the Downtown zones, the Gateway, Depot District and the Granary. In a portion of Central 9th, there is a proposed downzone.
Matkin said Home Depot was under contract on 5.5 acres of land in what is not quite the Depot District and not quite the Granary.
The location is likely on the east side of the street, where two properties owned by the Packaging Corporation of America amount to just under 5.5 acres.
That’s actually relatively small for a Home Depot footprint, which typically includes a massive swath of land for surface parking. The company’s location at 328 W. 2100 S. is closer to 12 acres, about four for the building and garden center and the rest for customers to load, park and store their cars.
The Home Depot in Millcreek near 3300 S. Highland is just under 11 acres.
The company’s representatives have been working with city staffers for months to design a store that is 3 acres, or 130,000 square feet between the interior store and its garden center.
Matkin mentioned including rooftop parking, but didn’t elaborate on what that meant.
“This type of material supply store we believe is needed within the Downtown adjacent area,” Matkin said. “However the application of these new rules to the General Commercial district would essentially make this store impossible, and we would have to abandon the project.”
That would represent a loss of tax revenue for the city, but it would also prevent a major generator of car trips in close proximity to Downtown (yet still right off Interstate 15).
We’ll know soon whether the Council will carve out an exception to its new rules or play hardball.