The Springville City Council discussed the present status of the corner of Main Street and 400 South, or what has become known to many as the Allen’s corner, in a work session Tuesday night.

The large grocery building has sat vacant now for more than two years.

Over the past year, various public meetings were conducted by the group looking to purchase the highly visible property — led by Justin Earl, co-founder of the J.B. Earl Co.

None of these meetings were sanctioned by Springville, but were put on as idea-gathering sessions for the community to get a feel for what residents would like to see developed on the corner.

City Attorney John Penrod introduced what has occurred with the property over the past 100 years as Springville has grown. He pointed out that the real question is, “What is going to be best on this corner for the citizens and the city?”

He added, “If nothing happens, and you are patient, what will happen in 20 to 30 years down the road is unknown; however, after tonight’s discussion, will the council want to go down the route of changing the zoning? If you do change it, that may be forever.”

After Penrod’s introduction, Josh Yost, Springville community development director, led the discussion into what the council would like to see in zoning ordinances that would provide a desired outcome.

He pointed out that there were five considerations to look at in the discussion:

  • Should the council consider increasing maximum building height?
  • Does the council support an increase in residential units?
  • Should the council consider redoing the minimum parking standards?
  • Does the council want to allow standalone residential downtown?
  • Is independent assisted living appropriate for downtown?

Height and the increase in the number of residential units per acre were the most discussed parts of any potential zoning change in the meeting.

Most of the council was concerned that if they allowed the height to increase to 65 feet from the current 45, the entire front façade could be built at that height.

Yost pointed out that he would like to see some rooflines at that height to get a better feel, although he would like the new language to make for a varied roofline, not a continual roofline at 65 feet.

Yost also pointed out that the alternative would be to rent the current space and become something like a Halloween store or dollar store. The large parking lot would likely remain unchanged.

Councilman Matt Packard explained in his experience he hasn’t seen successful implementation of renting retail business space under apartments.

“My fear is you will see a lot of vacant retail space on the bottom floor,” Packard said. “In order to make it work, they have to go higher to make it work. I am not really comfortable with that concept.”

Councilman Craig Jensen disagreed. “I would rather have that than what is there now,” he said. “As we move more and more to that model, I think this is going to work. I don’t know that I would throw it away. It is the only way it can pencil. Can we just put retail there and wait to see if that works?”

At the end of the discussion, Yost looked to get the temperature from the Council when supporting new language for a change in the zoning.

Jensen and Michael Snelson were ready to get moving and change things to make the current development plans work. Packard wanted to keep the height the same, and was against changing any density, but was fine with new parking standards.

Patrick Monney wished there was a crystal ball that would give insight as to the future of Springville, but stated he would be OK with the height.

Liz Crandall said she hoped there was a way to not go that high, as she believes it would block the view of the mountains.

The council anticipates to come up with a decision by March, as this is when the option for the developer will run out to buy the property.

Craig Conover is a former Springville city councilman and retail advertising manager at the Daily Herald.