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Sugar House residents are wary of a developer’s plans to replace the boarded-up Sizzler restaurant at the high-visibility corner of 2100 South and 1300 East with a new Kum & Go convenience store and fueling station.
Agents for the property’s owner, Romney Farr Properties in Salt Lake City, have applied for a conditional permit to demolish the vacant eatery at 2111 S. 1300 East and build a one-story retail outlet on that 0.81-acre site, which adjoins the northwest corner of Sugar House Park.
Des Moines, Iowa-based Kum & Go, which operates 400 stores in 11 states, announced in May it planned to expand into Utah for the first time, reportedly with more than 30 outlets set to open in the next five years.
The family-owned company has said in city documents that its 4,745-square-foot convenience store proposed in Sugar House will be 21 feet tall at its highest point, with a 17-1/2-foot canopy over six fueling stations and a total of 12 parking stalls. The interior, according to the permit application, is conceived as a 12-seat indoor “bistro” and would provide “a terrific product offering and fresh food choices such as made-to-order pizzas, sandwiches, wraps, and bakery items cooked on-site.”
Residents don’t think it’s a good match for the high-profile spot, with pedestrian safety and the project’s proximity to Sugar House Park among their main concerns.
“Needless to say, this is a terrible idea,” Judi Short, vice chair of the Sugar House Community Council and head of its subcommittee on land use and zoning, said via email. That corner already rates poorly for traffic efficiency, Short said, and its intersecting streets are congested now.
“We don’t need lots of cars going in and out,” she insisted.
The prospect of more traffic is spurring widespread worry. Short referred to “many” calls and emails from residents opposed to the convenience store proposal, and she said that “all seem to be outraged.”
The land in question is located in an area zoned for community business and is on the eastern edge of Sugar House’s central business district, which is seeing a dramatic spurt of commercial and residential development.
Gas stations are permitted as a conditional use under that zoning, requiring city oversight on ways to reduce any detrimental impacts.
City Planning Director Nick Norris told the community council Wednesday the proposal was early in the process and would be subject to public hearings and review by several city agencies and the planning commission, along with the Salt Lake County Health Department.
The site is located in a groundwater recharge zone, Norris said, which could result in additional requirements or limits on the project “to protect our underground water resources and to prevent leakage and spills and contamination of those resources, particularly because they help fill our wells that provide our drinking water.”
Included in the permit request are details on a series of safeguards and design standards meant to prevent leaks and spills from the Kum & Go’s fuel tanks, piping and related dispensing equipment.
According to Kum & Go’s Colorado-based landscape architect for the project, Galloway & Co., the new store would be compatible with its surroundings. Other corners at the intersection now feature an A&W Restaurant, a CVS Pharmacy and a Chevron gas station.
Galloway officials also said the project “would not unreasonably impact the level of service of the existing street network,” based on a specially commissioned engineering study, which concludes that the new Kum & Go would generate up to 364 more new average daily trips.
That won’t substantially affect the surrounding roads, the study found, partly because the project’s design also calls for closing and abandoning the northern most of three existing access points to the property, along 1300 East, and replacing it with curb, gutter and landscaping.
Galloway said designs for the proposed store have the building “pulled up to the street edges in order to create a more inviting and pedestrian-friendly access to the property.”
A spokesperson for the Sugar House Chamber of Commerce told residents the group does not consider a gas station “as the best fit for that parcel.”
Others see putting a convenience store and gas station as a missed opportunity for a more attractive use of the land, taking advantage of the neighboring park’s open spaces.
Community council member Landon Clark confirmed that several other developers previously approached the council about building other projects at the same locale. Short said several of those uses appeared to be constrained by the property’s zoning and proximity to the park.