Holladay • Black Diamond Equipment could be the big-name corporation that developers have said they’re hoping to attract to a high profile mixed-use project on the former site of the Cottonwood Mall.
But it wouldn’t just be the headquarters and main operations of the outdoor-recreation company — now on Holladay’s northern edge along 3900 South — that involves 420 employees designing and building climbing, skiing and mountain gear, Black Diamond President John Walbrecht said Thursday.
State economic development officials, he said, are encouraging him to create a climbing complex that could be used by, among many others, athletes training to make the U.S. climbing team, which will make its Olympic debut at the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo.
Walbrecht was addressing the Holladay City Council during the first of two public hearings on a revised proposal by Ivory Homes Ltd. and Woodbury Corp. to develop office buildings, retail shops, restaurants, single-family homes, brownstones and luxury condominiums on the 57-acre site, home to the mall from 1962 to 2008 and a weed patch since.
Woodbury Corp., which is handling the office side of the venture, originally had promoted the idea of a 136-foot-tall office tower as the iconic element that would attract a high-profile corporate tenant to establish its headquarters there.
But after neighbors’ resistance to that height contributed significantly to a 5-1 city Planning Commission vote against the proposal, company principal Jeff Woodbury told city officials that his architects had “figured out how to do sophisticated, cool buildings that will max out at 90 feet,” the limit allowed by current zoning on the property, while still being striking enough to attract a marquee tenant.
“I’ve been a big fan of the prospects of this development,” Walbrecht said, noting that his company has outgrown its facility at 2092 E. 3900 South.
That site has Black Diamond’s offices, a retail store and some of its manufacturing operations, he said, but the surrounding neighborhood has little else for his sizable workforce. The nearest restaurants are blocks away.
“Our goal in working with Ivory and Woodbury,” he said, “is to investigate building an office with retail and space that allows our employees to enjoy a climbing center and an outdoor market where they could hang out.”
Walbrecht applauded the notion of a community where people could both work and live. “To integrate retail with a work-live situation, we’re a huge fan of this project,” he said, adding that the climbing center also would attract potential Olympic climbers and other world-class athletes seeking to refine their skills.
Calls seeking additional information from the Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and Boulder, Colo.-based USA Climbing were not returned Friday.
Walbrecht was one of more than 35 people who made comments at the public hearing at Bonneviile Junior High School. The hearing is scheduled to continue Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at Holladay City Hall.
Thursday’s first round of commentary was fairly even between project friends and foes, although much of the rancor that swirled around the original proposal had softened as a result of changes the developers made to lower building heights, reduce the number and density of housing units and to add commercial acreage and green space.
Proponents said those compromises had made the project more palatable, while opponents said the developers’ changes did not go far enough to assuage their concerns.
Holladay Mayor Rob Dahle said he does not expect the City Council to act on the developers’ application for another six to eight weeks.