Many urban Utahns grew holiday shopping and seeing Santa at the now defunct Cottonwood Mall (4835 S. Highland Drive). It was the first shopping mall in the state and folks drove from Nevada, Idaho and even Colorado to see the wonders of the new huge ZCMI store (the LDS Church's first branch location). You might have even had your first job at Copper Rivet or spent quarters at the Tilt Arcade, bought skis at Pedersons Sports or got a few strikes at the Cottonwood Bowling Lanes. There was La Rie's, Anita Shops, Arthur Frank and a F.W. Woolworth—not to mention the 40,000-square-foot Paris department store and Makoff's. Oh, the days when you wandered aimlessly through a shopping mall—when you had time to shop in a mall!
The mall began its final downward spiral in the late '90s, and by the time the place was bulldozed in 2007, it was a ghost of past Christmas memories. General Growth Properties was the last group to touch the 56-acre site. They had plans to put in an insanely dense "Old World European" clump of offices and 600-plus high-end residences in a rat warren of complex streets. Their price range at that time was $700,000 for a three-bedroom townhome, aiming at the 65-and-older age demographic. I sat in blind studies with the developer and laughed when they showed the design plans, commenting that without elevators in their three-level townhouses, they'd have a hard time selling to an older crowd. That big plan went in the toilet during the recession and General Growth Properties filed for bankruptcy. The development was placed under the management of the Howard Hughes Corp. The lonely Macy's store sat on the huge piece of dirt until it closed earlier this year after new developers announced their plans.
Ivory Homes and Woodbury Corp. have nine Planning Commission and City Council public meetings between now and Feb. 1 to get public feedback on their proposed uses of the land. Right now, they are looking at 12 percent open space, 40 acres of residences and 17 acres of mixed-use area to include restaurants, retail office and residences. Frankly, I think these local groups have a much better chance with this land's future than the greedy boys I met with back in 2006. If you're interested in sharing your ideas, contact them at email@example.com.