West Jordan looks to beautify city to entice developers
May 17, 2017 04:26PM ● Published by Tori LaRue
The current landscaping at the city’s entrance at 7000 South and about 1100 West. (Google Earth)
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By Tori La Rue | firstname.lastname@example.org
Lack of aesthetic appeal is the biggest hurdle in bringing economic development to West Jordan, according to the city council. That’s why city leaders are moving forward with a near-million-dollar landscaping project at a city entrance.
“The cost is huge, but it’s really important that we address this,” Councilman Chad Nichols said, calling streetscapes the city’s most important economic development tool. “I really think that—and this is just me speaking—but that for every dollar we put into this, it’s going to be back tenfold in property values, aesthetics and businesses who want to come to West Jordan.”
Mayor Kim Rolfe said he “wholeheartedly” agreed with Nichol’s sentiment and wanted to start the beautification process immediately.
On March 22, Rolfe, Nichols and councilmen Dirk Burton and Zach Jacob directed staff to finalize plans for a $940,000 landscaping project at the city entrance on 7000 South near 1100 West, using funds from the city’s redevelopment budget. The project will create a landscape complete with green space, cobble rock, shrubberies and native grass along the now-barren hillside.
“We need to masterplan the entrances and the interior of the rest of the city, as well—although that’s a grander scale— but starting somewhere is a good move,” Rolfe said, adding that he believes the money invested in these projects will bring back “large dividends.”
Because 7000 South is a state road, the Utah Department of Transportation will need to approve landscape plans before West Jordan can begin the project. This also means city officials may be able to secure some state funding for the entrance landscape.
Deputy Parks Director David Naylor, who presented a preliminary plan for the 7000 South entrance during the March 22 meeting, also presented landscaping options for the city’s entrance at 9000 South and about 900 West, but the council chose not to move forward with that streetscape because UDOT plans to extend 9000 South to a seven-lane highway. This could change the landscaping options available to the city.
Above-ground telephone lines also line 9000 South, which further limits landscaping options. Only a few types of trees would be safe to use in this area, Naylor said.
After Naylor finished his presentation on city entrances, representatives from MGB+A design and a Fehr & Peers transportation presented findings from their study of Redwood Road. In 2015, the city council asked them to evaluate West Jordan’s portion of Redwood Road and present ways city leaders could update the road and surrounding areas to bolster economic development.
MGB+A and Fehr & Peers’ Redwood Master Plan Report suggests using vertical elements, site furnishings and patterned park strips to attract pedestrians to Redwood Road. The design these companies presented included adding trees, benches, art and lampposts at intersections and implementing other visual elements on park strips to dress up the space for walkers.
The plan also suggests dividing opposing traffic on Redwood Road by using islands and lifted, landscaped medians. These would replace the two-way left turn lane, sometimes referred to as a “suicide lane,” that’s currently in the middle of Redwood Road.
In all, it would cost about $17.8 million to implement the Redwood plan within city boundaries. Stating that $17 million is out of reach, Rolfe invited MGB+A and Fehr & Peers to determine the cost of Redwood Road updates from 7800 South to the city center and present to the council at a later date.
“I like what I see, but I would just like to identify an area that we could start,” Rolfe said. “Possibly with some cooperation with UDOT and ourselves, we might be able to do a section.”