After months of negotiation, the Holladay City Council has approved a plan for the old Cottonwood Mall site

(Al Hartmann | The Salt Lake Tribune) View from the north looking south of the old Macy's building at the old Cottonwood Mall site near 4800 S. Highland Drive in Holladay on Tuesday March 13, 2018. It's the last remaing building on the property.

Holladay • After seven months of negotiations among Holladay, its residents and developers hoping to transform the old Cottonwood Mall site into a bustling city center, the City Council voted Thursday to move forward with a recently revised plan.

All five council members and the mayor, serving as the council chairman, voted to approve the site developmental master plan, which includes specifications for the type and size of buildings that will inhabit the mall site, as well as parking, signage and trail specifications.

The first phase of home development could be complete by 2019, with larger office spaces coming in the year or so after that, The Salt Lake Tribune has reported.

The approved plan is the product of months of negotiations between developers and residents, who won the fight for fewer residential units, more green space and retail, and the removal of a proposed 136-foot office tower.

This artist's rendition from Ivory Homes shows the kind of design foreseen for roughly 80 homes that would be built on quarter-acre lots in the residential portion of a plan to redevelop the former site of the Cottonwood Mall in Holladay.

“I feel comfortable with what we’ve come up with, and I truly believe that down the road, it will become a gathering place, and as we look back on it, it will be something the community is proud of,” Councilman Mark Stewart said.

Throughout the nearly three-hour discussion — which mostly included city officials going through the tedious process of changing and clarifying individuals words, phrases or locations of items in the site plan — council members and residents alike alluded to the time spent discussing the project over the past months.

Mayor Rob Dahle opened the meeting Thursday evening by saying he’d been informed somebody had attended to address an issue that wasn’t the mall site.

“I’d forgotten there actually were other issues other than the Cottonwood Mall,” he joked.

As community members approached the podium to make statements, they introduced themselves as if they’d done it many times before — and many had.

Brett Stohlton, a Holladay resident, began his address with, “This is becoming all to familiar,” before asking the council to take more time to consider the economic repercussions of the plan, should it move to approve the site’s related agreement for the development land, also on the agenda that night.

The plan, which outlined tax, subsidy and other financials information for the site, also was the subject of Tim Schimandle’s public comment.

Schimandle, who applauded the plan’s compromises with residents, urged the councilors to approve the site developmental master plan but not the current agreement for the development.

“Don’t approve public funding for a project to create a subsidy for the wealthy. Don’t allow the baseline on the project to be set artificially low to inflate the increment,” he said. “And don’t stimulate an economy that is already healthy.”

The council later unanimously approved the agreement for development of land.

(Al Hartmann | The Salt Lake Tribune) View from the south looking north of the old Cottonwood Mall site near 4800 S. Highland Drive in Holladay on Tuesday March 13, 2018.

Utah Rep. Carol Spackman Moss also spoke at the meeting, though she addressed the council as a private citizen who lives near the development.

She argued that the city had been getting nothing from the site, and now, after much compromise, had the opportunity to get something.

“What I’ve learned is you try to give everybody something that they want, but you can’t give everybody everything they want,” she said, urging the council to approve the site plan and move forward with the project.

Near the end of discussion, Councilman Lynn Pace told attendees he thought the mixed-used development was the best use of the old mall site.

He recounted a brief history of the mall, saying when it was built in the 1960s it, too, was met with skepticism but ultimately turned into a thriving community center.

“What that means,” he said, “is if we’re going to get the right project on this site, it’s not going to be the project that fits perfectly today, it’s going to take us out of our comfort zone.”

Pace predicted the new development could have the same effect on Holladay as the old mall: bringing people together and making money for the city.