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Roy leaders OK change to bolster city center, mayor foresees outreach to developers

By Tim Vandenack standard-Examiner - | Mar 4, 2021
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Roy's 1900 West commercial corridor is pictured Feb. 26, 2021. City leaders approved zoning changes that proponents hope will bode for redevelopment of the core area.
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Motorists drive along Roy's 1900 West commercial corridor on Feb. 26, 2021. City leaders approved zoning changes that proponents hope will bode for redevelopment of the core area.

ROY — Roy officials have approved a pair of zoning changes aimed at reinventing the city’s main commercial area along 1900 West.

And now, Mayor Bob Dandoy, for one, who sought the change, foresees a bright future, with increased potential for new development in the city’s core area. “It’s all about modernizing,” he said.

With the changes allowing for mixed-use development — a combination of commercial and residential, not just one or the other — he expects a jump in interest among developers to come in and potentially rebuild. As is, the focus area — the 1900 West corridor roughly between Riverdale Road and 6000 South — is a mix of fast-food eateries and restaurants, strip malls and other retail outlets. In the wake of Tuesday’s 3-2 votes on the measures precipitating the change, he foresees a push by city officials to reach out to investors and developers.

“We’ve gotten it approved, we need to go on the road,” Dandoy said. Developers prefer mixed-use development schemes, he said, and they are increasingly common in Northern Utah.

Though he didn’t cite any concrete possibilities, change eventually could entail demolishing existing buildings and replacing them with new ones. “We could see something this year,” the mayor said.

Still, the votes for change were split, 3-2, and City Councilperson Bryon Saxton has his reservations about the mayor’s vision. City Council members Joe Paul, Jan Burrell and Ann Jackson voted for the change while Saxton and Diane Wilson voted against it.

Though he’ll try to make the best of the change now that the majority on the council has spoken, Saxton worries developers will rush to build new apartment buildings, paying only perfunctory attention to retail and office development. “I just don’t want to see 20 years into the future and have Roy’s main street swallowed up by apartments and nowhere for commercial to go,” he said.

Roy residents have clamored for a movie theater in the city, something Dandoy also favors, and Saxton worries about even that possibility getting edged out by residential given strong demand for housing. “If we sweep through with apartments, then where are we going to put the theater?” he said.

Dandoy questions whether the push for housing will be so overwhelming as to drown out commercial development. For one thing, the new zoning changes would require the ground floor of any apartment building in the impacted area to contain commercial space.

Beyond that, some developers, at least, would likely want to partner with the city to secure tax breaks or other benefits, he thinks. If they do, city leaders “have a big voice” in the sort of projects that get approved.

A RETAIL STUDY?Figuring in Dandoy’s optimism is Northrop Grummon’s Roy Innovation Center, taking shape just east of Roy’s commercial core adjacent to Hill Air Force Base. The complex is expected to eventually employ 3,000 people, a potential pool of customers for a revamped downtown. Most immediately, the mayor sees potential for a hotel in Roy to accommodate the many business visitors the new Northrop Grummon facility is likely to draw.

At any rate, he favors moving forward soon with a retail study of Roy to more precisely gauge the city’s retail and commercial strengths and weaknesses. That would help focus efforts to seek out investors and developers.

Benjamin Becker, vice president with Zion’s Public Finance, addressed the City Council prior to Tuesday’s vote on getting such a study. Whether to carry out such an inquiry will likely be a focus of City Council debate in the near term.

”A huge thing in Roy is going to be these new jobs,” Becker said, alluding to the Roy Innovation Center. “That’s going to shape and shift the retail market not only for you but for some of your surrounding retailers.”

Tuesday’s vote culminated two-plus years of talks and deliberations on the matter of revamping the downtown area. Dandoy estimates the efforts have cost some $200,000 for consultants and other expenses, part of that covered by entitles like the Wasatch Front Regional Council.


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