Popular SLC trail could gain more neighborhood attractions

EPA grant will allow Salt Lake City to clean up west-side site and possibly bring restaurants, coffeehouses and other commerce to the Folsom Trail.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) City Creek daylighting project would add water and gathering amenities to Folsom Trail, pictured on Thursday, Oct. 20, 2022, near downtown Salt Lake City. The path opened in 2022, but more work is underway.

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A vacant building near North Temple someday may host longed-for small businesses on Salt Lake City’s west side.

It might also become a commercial attraction for those hiking and biking the popular Folsom Trail.

First, though, it needs to be cleaned up.

The spot at 22 Jeremy St. — near South Temple and 900 West — housed Schovaers Electronics, an electroplating shop, for nearly 40 years until its 2017 closure. An environmental study of the 0.34-acre site found contamination from heavy metals and volatile organic compounds in its soil and groundwater.

The city’s Redevelopment Agency owns that plat now and has plans to convert the former industrial zone into a neighborhood center with 100 feet of frontage along the Folsom Trail.

“After this cleanup is complete,” Cara Lindsley, deputy RDA director, said, “we plan to renovate and reuse the existing site to begin establishing a node of small-scale, trail-oriented commercial spaces that are suited for small local businesses and nonprofit organizations.”

An engagement process will be in the works when the site becomes ready for renovations to ask community members what kinds of businesses and organizations they would like to see in the area, Lindsley said. As of now, the general idea is to include restaurants, coffeehouses or bike repair shops, along with organizations that could serve the surrounding neighborhoods.

Potential designs are not available but may be released along with City Creek’s “daylighting” project by fall.

About the Folsom Trail

(Christopher Cherrington | The Salt Lake Tribune)

The Folsom Trail officially opened in June 2022 as a paved off-street walking and biking path that connects 1000 West to 500 West and the North Temple FrontRunner Station.

But it still has a long way to go.

The city allocated $5 million for Folsom Trail improvements in the bond voters approved in November. The money would add amenities, native plants and a tree canopy, while completing the paving and continuing the path to the Jordan River Trail.

The RDA and Seven Canyons Trust are also studying plans to resurface City Creek north of the trail and will present design and programming alternatives to the public this summer.

Last fall, that team finished an engagement process in which respondents said they would like to see landscaping, lighting, trash cans and seating areas along the trail. They also expressed concerns about maintenance, safety and homelessness.

The visual preference survey found that residents favor murals, creative seating, natural play spaces and a plaza.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) City Creek daylighting project would add water and gathering amenities to Folsom Trail, pictured on Thursday, Oct. 20, 2022, near downtown Salt Lake City.

“It could be this really interesting juxtaposition between sort of an industrial area with restaurants, places to live, with kind of that natural [area],” Brian Tonetti, executive director of Seven Canyons Trust, said. “A really, really cool green space.”

In addition to these plans, a multifamily development is underway around the corner from the former Schovaers Electronics site. TAG SLC is constructing Folsom Flats, a mixed-use building that would open up 188 units along the corridor.

EPA funds cleanup

The city is receiving a $495,200 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to tidy up the site. The cleanup is expected to start this fall and continue until next spring.

“This EPA grant signifies a major step in Salt Lake City’s efforts to revitalize this west-side corridor,” Mayor Erin Mendenhall said in a news release. “By tapping into the federal Brownfields program, the Redevelopment Agency of Salt Lake City has greatly boosted its ability to activate the pedestrian-oriented Folsom Trail while addressing the community health and environmental impacts of this land’s long history of heavy industrial activity and proximity to major transportation corridors.”

The EPA also granted $1 million to Salt Lake County to study 20 high-priority sites in and around Magna’s Main Street and west Salt Lake City’s Guadalupe and Poplar Grove neighborhoods, where concerns remain from asbestos, lead, metals, petroleum hydrocarbons and dry-cleaning solvents.

According to the release, former auto repair shops, a former dry cleaner, an abandoned commercial building and other vacant properties may be redeveloped for different uses, including affordable housing and commercial spaces.

“Salt Lake County is making good on its commitment to clean up our environment, and we are grateful for the EPA’s support,” county Mayor Jenny Wilson said in the release. “These funds will allow us to assess contamination and clear the path for meaningful redevelopment — making the county safer and healthier for all residents.”

Alixel Cabrera is a Report for America corps member and writes about the status of communities on the west side of the Salt Lake Valley for The Salt Lake Tribune. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by clicking here.