Here’s what’s in a revised application for a new Kimball Junction neighborhood
Developers have pared down their proposal for a new mixed-use neighborhood at the tech center site in Kimball Junction, reducing commercial and residential square footage by more than 15% and significantly increasing affordable housing in an effort to match the already-entitled density on the land and the stricter requirements of today’s development code.
Gone are some of the amenities that were once envisioned, like the gondola system, an underground transit hub and one of the hotels. But the project maintains the mixed-use, walkable neighborhood aspirations and still encompasses roughly 1.6 million square feet, 335,000 of which are set aside for 306 affordable housing units.
The developer said the application does not foreclose the opportunity to build some of those transportation amenities in the future, like the underground transit center that could anchor a future bus rapid transit system. Instead, the revised application shows what the developers believe they could accomplish on the acreage they own without complicated land-swap arrangements and cost-sharing agreements that would be necessary for those more “aspirational” items.
Dakota Pacific Real Estate’s first application to Summit County for the land west of S.R. 224, across from Redstone and Newpark, was submitted in August and called for nearly 2 million square feet of development and proposed building 111 affordable housing units.
The Snyderville Basin Planning Commission heard the revised application Tuesday evening.
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Meeting on Zoom and for the first time in six weeks, the Planning Commission heard the presentation from Dakota Pacific Real Estate’s representative Jeff Gochnour and asked about the project’s green spaces, traffic impacts, walkability and timing.
The approval process for the new neighborhood remains largely the same even as the application has changed, with the Planning Commission tasked with forwarding a positive or negative recommendation to the County Council, which retains final land-use authority.
The land is governed by a 2008 development agreement that allows about 1.3 million square feet of development, though the land remains largely untouched. Most proposals in the intervening decade have failed to meet the standards outlined in the development agreement, which requires projects conform to the planned tech center use.
Dakota Pacific Real Estate is seeking to reopen that development agreement and amend those restrictions, but the revised application does not request any additional density. That avoids a key test required by the Snyderville Basin General Plan: that no new density be granted without a so-called countervailing public interest. The hundreds of thousands of square feet of affordable housing do not count against the density limit.
The new plan calls for one hotel instead of the two originally eyed, and a reduction in office and housing square footage. Gochnour explained that the application still includes 1,100 residential units and that the decrease in density was accomplished in part by reducing the size of some of the offerings.
The application also significantly increases the amount of open space that would be included in the project, to 41 acres, and reduces the amount land used for surface parking lots from more than 16 acres in the previously approved plan to fewer than three.
That appears to conform with the county’s priorities of environmental stewardship, encouraging green space and walkable neighborhoods. The plans call for parking under many of the proposed residential buildings.
Commissioner Joel Fine stressed the importance of integrating the development on the west side of S.R. 224 with the existing shopping complex on the east side, saying the current traffic situation is terrible.
The developer’s traffic consultant has said both proposals would reduce the amount of traffic compared to what would have been created if the once-planned tech center had been fully built out. Building a new neighborhood in Kimball Junction, however, would still create significant additional traffic.
The new proposal would add about 700 additional vehicle trips in the morning rush hour and 850 during the evening peak, according to the developer’s presentation. That’s down from the 1,250 and 1,350 additional trips that were anticipated to have been created by the plan the county approved in 2008.
Officials have long said that mass transit is the solution to congestion and are working on a $39 million federal grant for a bus rapid transit system that would run, in part, along S.R. 224 from Kimball Junction to Park City.
Dakota Pacific Real Estate’s first application indicated the additional density would be offset by the public benefits of a proposed transit center adjacent to S.R. 224 that could anchor that bus rapid transit system. The plan included ramps going below the busy thoroughfare and heading into an underground bus barn with room for parking.
The developers were clear, however, that they wouldn’t pay for that amenity themselves. In the new application, the transit center and an accompanying gondola system are no longer included, but Gochnour said the plan keeps the door open for a future project. The new application calls for a surface parking lot there, which could be more easily converted into a future transit center than if developers invested in a multi-level parking garage, which can be costly.
“If you’ve got a structured parking lot on that site, it really does limit how that can be expanded,” Gochnour said. “That’s one of the things that we’re trying to preserve is, down the road, if this works out, we could easily expand the transit center over onto that site.”
The new application also details the affordable housing component of the plan. Of the 1,100 total housing units, 306 would be reserved for households making between 30% and 120% of the area’s median income, which in 2019 was $76,860.
Almost half of the affordable units would be for those making between 30% and 50% of the median income, or $23,058 to $38,430 using 2019 data. Another 128 units are earmarked for those earning between $46,116 and $61,488, while 50 units are set aside for those who make up to $92,232 annually.
All of the residential units are planned to be available for rent, which would address a dire need in the county. A 2019 housing needs assessment found the county would have to create 231 affordable rental apartments annually to keep up with demand, and building permit numbers are far below that.
Gochnour said the next step will likely be a virtual open house held in coming weeks, and county staff indicated the application will be heard once again by the Planning Commission in late June.
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