Townhome proposal in Glendale will consume rare west side neighborhood commercial zoning in a “node” that calls for mixed-use

Developers plan 58 townhomes on a 2.37-acre commercially-zoned parcel in Salt Lake City’s Glendale neighborhood.

The property – long known as Glendale Plaza – is zoned CB Community Business and currently hosts a grocery store (20,000 sf) and a large surface parking lot. 

The area is unique for several reasons. Its diagonal street pattern and traffic circle run counter to the city’s dominant N-S, E-W grid. It is also one of the few properties zoned for neighborhood commercial on the West side. 

Images courtesy Google Earth and SLC Planning.

The small commercial district – or “node” as it’s defined in the city’s Westside Master Plan – also includes a public school, senior housing, and a church. It is surrounded by single-family zoning, and is also near the somewhat mixed-use California Ave (1300 S) corridor.

The Planning Commission is being asked to approve the project as a Planned Development. It does not require City Council approval.

The context: present conditions and the master plan

Of the 1020 acres zoned for residential on the west side (34% of total area), 89% is zoned single-family, according to the 2015 Westside Master Plan.

The Glendale Street Townhomes site is surrounded by R-1-5000 + 7000 zoning. Notable in the master plan is the lack of any areas marked for densification. It mentions “areas of opportunity” while soft-pedaling what that might mean in areas like Glendale Plaza.

Glendale Plaza is identified as a “neighborhood” commercial node, the least-intense of the plan’s classifications. 

Commercial “nodes” in SLC’s Westside master plan. Glendale Plaza circled in blue.

“Nodes” are a central aspect of the plan, which observes that existing nodes on the west side “provide the community with a variety of housing options, increase the stability of the existing residential neighborhoods by providing the necessary daily or discretionary retail and service options and provide opportunities for employment within the community.”

The plan says the Glendale Plaza node “is missing a couple of elements but has potential.” “It has the size and bank of developable space to be a thriving community node, but the access and visibility of a neighborhood node.”

It concludes, “The Glendale Plaza node is most suited for mixed use development that has a strong residential component.”

The proposal

Developers Langue Inc. (from local firm Axis Architects) are hoping that the Planning Commission will exempt them from the requirement that all residences be street-facing. Only 24 of the project’s 58 units front Navajo Street and Glendale Drive. 

As for public benefit, the developer’s narrative states “Site design includes a mid-block walkway from Glendale (the city street along its long perimeter), entirely through the project to the amenity area near the rear property line, and from there northwesterly to the public sidewalk at the Navajo Street entrance to the project. This walkway will be open to the public. It will connect to and expand the network of walking paths in the neighborhood.”

Posted by Luke Garrott

Luke Garrott, PhD, has published in The Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News, and written features for the Salt Lake City Weekly City Guide and The West View. A former two-term councilman in Salt Lake City's District 4, he lives in Downtown Salt Lake City and grew up in the Chicago area.