Creating a concrete corridor? City Council considers mixed-use project proposed for St. George Boulevard

A concept design for a mixed-use project set for the corner of 300 West and St. George Boulevard as seen from the St. George side. The top most design of the building is subject to change due to height concerns raised by some members of the St. George City Council | Rendering courtesy of the city of St. George, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Approval of zoning making way for a new mixed-use development proposed for St. George Boulevard east of Walgreens Pharmacy was tabled by the St. George City Council on Thursday over concerns related to the project’s height and how it could influence future development in the downtown area.

Site plans for a proposed mixed-use project set to the corner of St. George Boulevard and 300 West | Rendering courtesy of the city of St. George, St. George News

Among a plethora of development-related items on the City Council’s agenda on Thursday night was a zone change request for the construction of a five-story, mixed-use project that would stand nearly 70 feet high.

Similar to developments like Joule Plaza and City View nearby, the 300 West project would sport commercial space on the ground floor and house a total of 52 residential apartment units on the upper floors. The ground floor will also hold an amenity space for the residents in addition to an outdoor recreation space located in the rear.

Both surface and underground parking are also planned for residents and commercial patrons.

According to conceptual site plans, the 300 West complex and its accompanying parking lot would take up a sizable portion of the corner of 300 West and St. George Boulevard. The boundaries of the project would also wrap around the Sun City Glass building that sits on 300 West.

Currently, a car lot and auto repair shop used as a part-time hobby shop occupy the location where the mixed-use building is proposed. The remaining area of the project would cover what is described in city documents as an “unfinished dirt area that houses a few vehicles.”

A shot of the auto repair shop on St. George Boulevard currently being used as a hobby shop. It is one of the building that would be torn down to make way for a five-story, mixed-use project if approved by the St. George City Council | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

“This is one of the best applications for that location,” applicant Wes Davis told the council.

While Mayor Michele Randall and council member Danielle Larkin agreed, other council members weren’t so certain

Council member Jimmie Hughes expressed concerns over the height of the project. At 69 feet, it would be one of the taller buildings in the downtown area. He also worried that approving such multistory projects in downtown St. George before having a definitive plan in place for future downtown development was a mistake.

“I’m not against these projects, but I don’t want them to overrun the downtown either,” Hughes said, adding he was worried St. George Boulevard could become a “concrete corridor” if they kept approving multistory projects without establishing downtown development guidelines first.

“We need a plan right now and we don’t have one,” Hughes said.

In this file photo, the City View Apartments in downtown St. George, Utah, February 2021 | Photo by Adele Park, St. George News

Council member Natalie Larson agreed, saying the city might open “Pandora’s box” if they voted to approve the project without some tweaks. Both she and Hughes worried doing so would set a precedent other developers would push for in the downtown area.

Council member Gregg McArthur said the city was currently in the process of creating a downtown-focused plan as a part of its overall St. George 2040 general plan update, so a set of development guidelines in is the works.

Despite other council members’ concerns, Larkin said more recent, single-story development along St. George Boulevard and in the downtown area provided a “healthy mix of density” and wasn’t worried about seeing multiple multistory buildings lining the street.

While the proposed 300 West mixed-used complex stands at 69 feet, the actual top of the building is 59 feet with the extra 10 made up by architectural aesthetics. Davis said he was willing to work with the city to redesign the top of the building and return with new concept designs in the near future.

The council agreed and voted to table the zone change request. The council is anticipated to take up the matter again during one of its August meetings.

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