Skeptical neighbors got a look Monday at slimmed-down and somewhat-greener plans for a new Kum & Go convenience store and fueling center to be built at one of Sugar House’s busiest intersections.
The retail outlet and gas station, which is pegged to replace the old Sizzler restaurant at 2111 S. 1300 East in Salt Lake City, has proved a worry for hundreds of vocal residents and business owners who point to potential problems with traffic, environmental impacts and its proximity to popular Sugar House Park.
“I’ve still yet to see the value this provides to the overall community,” said Brandon Hill, co-chair of the Sugar House Chamber of Commerce. Other businesses in the area, Hill said, “share those concerns. That’s been expressed to me dozens of times.”
But under existing zoning at that corner in Sugar House just off Interstate 80, the proposed gas station must be approved by the city’s planning commission, which can set conditions. That hearing could come as soon as October.
In talks with Kum & Go officials last February, the Sugar House Community Council urged a bunch of changes to site plans — many with pedestrians, congestion and the park in mind.
Kum & Go and its Colorado-based planning consultant Galloway & Company offered its refreshed designs Monday as they work with city planners to shape the new store with six fueling stations to that 0.81-acre parcel adjoining the park’s northwest corner.
Based on community input, designers trimmed the size of the store by 800 square feet and added textured sidewalks and landscaping along the 2100 South and 1300 East entrances “to have a pedestrian-inviting, friendly atmosphere along the street way,” said Nate Abbott, project manager for Galloway.
He said new designs had also eliminated one of the property’s entrances, reducing points of possible contact between pedestrians and traffic.
The store’s footprint also would include a fringe of trees and shrubs on the eastern side, intended to shield it visually from the park.
The store would be tucked in the property’s northwest corner.
The size reduction and flopping the store’s internal layout wiped out two parking stalls for a total of 10 now, Abbott said, and designers intend to tie the site’s design to plans for a new city bike path and a park trail managed by the Sugar House Park Authority.
In response to questions about the store’s value to the community, Abbott said it would be “almost a concession stand for the park” where people could “get some sunscreen or some sodas or what have you, without having to cross over 1300 East.”
Representatives for the family-owned Iowa company behind the national Kum & Go chain of 400 outlets in 11 states announced in May 2021 they want to build more than 30 new locations in Utah by 2026.
Ryan Halder, a senior manager for Kum & Go, told community members it owns the construction firm that will do the work and plans to take the time necessary at the Sugar House site to minimize neighborhood impacts.
It is unclear for now, though, just when the conditional use will be approved and when the city might issue a building permit.
Many of the community worries brought up Monday stem from the prospect of snarling traffic at that heavily traveled corner, given the station will service automobiles and semitrucks coming off the interstate with many vehicles entering via 1300 East and exiting onto 2100 South headed east toward Parleys Canyon.
Kum & Go’s plans have included an in-depth traffic study submitted to the city.
To fears raised Monday over the possibility of vehicle backups on 1300 East caused by fuel delivery trucks, Christian Michaelson, traffic engineer for Galloway and a former truck driver, said the site had been designed to favor right turns.
“They’re the safest,” Michaelson said, “and they’re the quickest.” There is also a dedicated turn lane on 1300 East included in the project.
Kum & Go representatives have conducted a soils study and other analysis of the site as part of addressing community concerns over potential water contamination, Abbott and others said. Designs call for extensive underground stormwater systems, which the property didn’t have before, to collect and manage on-site water flow.
Geotechnical engineering studies also are ensuring the development has no impact on the small Sego Lily dam nearby, Abbot said.
Community members called Monday for more traffic analysis in the wider neighborhood, additional buffering to shield the park from extraneous lighting from the station’s canopy, and drought-sensitive landscaping.