ST. GEORGE – Two items needed for a mixed-use development in downtown St. George were passed unanimously by the St. George City Council Thursday night. The development will feature three four-story buildings across the street from the 5th District Courthouse on Tabernacle Street, dominating much of the block between 200 and 300 West, a 3.9 acre area.
Called Joule Plaza, the development will offer a total of 235,000 square feet. The bottom floor will be used as commercial space while the upper floors will house 129 residential apartments, varying between one-to-three-bedrooms. Units will be held as rentals and property managers will live on site. Apartment rents are estimated to start at $700-to-$1,000 per month.
Joule Plaza will feature amenities for residents, such as a pool, barbecue area, and fitness centers, said Wes Davis, representing the developers. The property is located within walking distance of many downtown businesses, including Smith’s Supermarket.
“There is an opportunity to revitalize and re-energize the downtown area,” Davis said.
The continual revitalization of downtown St. George is an ongoing goal of city officials originally started under former-Mayor Daniel McArthur. Supporters of Joule Plaza have said it will help this effort.
Though in the works for over four years, city staff and the developers have been working together to move the project forward over the last few months. City Councilman Jimmie Hughes said both sides were owed a lot of credit for bringing things as far as they had.
The development is anticipated to be a great benefit to the downtown area, City Manager Gary Esplin said, as it could bring in needed density, which will also benefit commercial ventures in the area.
“It’s exactly what we need in our downtown area,” he said.
The two items needed from the City Council related to the height of the buildings and concerns over parking. Earlier in the week, the Planning Commission made recommendations for the council’s approval.
The three buildings will be between 50-54 feet high, which zoning wouldn’t generally allow for as it caps commercial buildings at 35 feet. However, the City Council approved a conditional use permit allowing the height, citing that other buildings in St. George were as high or higher.
Discussion over parking went back and forth between the City Council and Davis, but a measure was also passed. An underground parking structure will be a part of the project, and Davis said it’s expected there will still be adequate room for parking even if all residents are home with their vehicles parked at the same time. The walkability that the development’s central location fosters was also taken into account, noting that not every occupant will necessarily own a car.
Esplin said he felt the positive impact Joule Plaza will have in downtown St. George will outweigh potential parking issues.Possibly having angled parking spaces on the street, was one suggestion he made, like those that are in front of the Washington County School District administration building.
Overall, the Joule Plaza project enjoyed a positive reception by the City Council.
“I think it will fit well,” Mayor Jon Pike said. “It seems like a good mixture, a good fit.”
A construction date for the development has not been announced.
The City Council approved the sale of 4.176 acres of city property behind the Dixie Convention Center for $12 per square foot to St. George Hotel Investors LLC. Esplin said the group plans to build two hotels on the property. Construction is expected to begin in February 2015.
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