Sandy unveil its downtown version 2.0

Over five years since plans for a city center focused around signature towers fell apart, the city of Sandy has regrouped and unveiled The Cairns, its new 20-year master plan, that calls for a more modest city center with slightly more diminutive towers at the project’s center.

On Monday Sandy city leaders officially broke ground on The Prestige, a 25-story residential high-rise on the corner of Centennial Parkway and Sego Lily Drive, that will become the signature towers of The Cairns.

Plans for the Proscenium, a proposed mixed-use project that included a large Broadway-style theater and three residential and commercial towers up to 40-floors fizzled during the recession.  Sandy’s vision for their downtown was ambition, at 40-floors each the towers would have been the state’s tallest.

In 2009 the city of Sandy purchased the land for the Proscenium with the intent of later building smaller towers on the same site.   Eventually, Salt Lake City moved forward with its own theater and the city of Sandy was forced to reassess its plans for its downtown.

The Cairns will stretch from 9000 South to 11400 South between State Street and Interstate 15.  The plan calls for a redeveloped South Towne Center mall and high-density housing, retail and office space.

“We can no longer spread out and sprawl,” said Sandy mayor Tom Dolan at The Prestige groundbreaking.

Unlike its neighbors to the west, there is little available land left in Sandy which requires any significant new development to build up instead of out.

Construction is underway on the first phase of the East Village, a mixed-use transit orientated development near the Sandy Civic Center TRAX station at 10000 South.  Sandy is partnering with the UTA for a circular bus that would connect The Cairns to nearby TRAX and Frontrunner stations.

Sandy has been accused in the past of competing with downtown Salt Lake City.  Both cities fought to house a soccer stadium for Real Salt Lake (which Sandy won) and a Broadway-style theater (which is being built in Salt Lake City).

Instead of signature projects, the cities could soon be competing for Millennials and Baby-Boomers.  But Nick Como, the Senior Director of Communication & Marketing for the Downtown Alliance, thinks Salt Lake has the edge in attracting potential urban dwellers.

“A density and diversity of world-class bars and restaurants in an urban center is something the suburbs cannot replicate. Studies show business looking to draw the working professionals of tomorrow are drawn to urban centers to live, work and play – a paradigm unique to downtown,” said Como to Fox 13.

Rendering of The Prestige.
Rendering of The Prestige.
Concept map for Sandy City Center.
Concept map for Sandy City Center.

Posted by Isaac Riddle

Isaac Riddle grew up just outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. He has a BA in English literature from the University of Utah and a Masters of Journalism from Temple University. Isaac has written for Next City, The Philadelphia Public School Notebook and Salt Lake City Weekly. Before embarking on a career in journalism, Isaac taught High School English in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia. Isaac is the founder of Building Salt Lake and can be reached at