Westminster Master Plan presentation: permission or forgiveness? Part I
Annalisa Holcombe, Director of Alumni, Community and Board Relations for Westminster College and Steering Committee Chair for Westminster’s proposed Master Plan, presented an overview of that document to the Sugar House Community Council (SHCC), at that group’s monthly meeting held April 4. The presentation was just one of several that will take place throughout the surrounding area, e.g., Holcombe gave a similar presentation earlier in the day to the Sugar House Merchants’ Association, before going to Salt Lake City for final approval.
Rationalization for Westminster’s move into the Sugar House business district
Holcombe, who also serves as a trustee on SHCC's board representing Westminster College, emphasized the change in direction that its proposed Master plan reflects from its previous goal to purchase residential property in the surrounding area for potential rezoning (to the necessary institutional designation) in the future to that of expansion into the Sugar House business district.
Holcombe rationalized that move by noting the ostensible economic benefits to Sugar House, specifically citing a Westminster Honors Project Study concluding an alleged $182 million economic impact on the Sugar House community by Westminster and its students. She also cited less measurable benefits that included 45,000 Westminster student volunteer hours to various Sugar House business district projects last year and opportunities to ‘engage the (business) community’ by Westminster’s presence there.
Concerns on alleged preferential treatment of Westminster development projects
Critics have cited what they feel has been preferential treatment for Westminster’s related development projects (actually Woodbury projects for which Westminster is the primary tenant) that has already enabled them to move into the business district without Master Plan approval including:
Westminster on the Draw
This project, to be located just south of 2100 South on 1330 East, consists of a six story combination student housing (132 beds on upper levels), retail (on main level), and classroom space (on the lower ‘draw’ level) that will connect the Parley’s Trail from Sugar House Park to Hidden Hollow) for which Woodbury was allowed to demolish earlier this week, rather than using and remodeling the existing Woodbury building, which was not that old.