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Reshaping downtown

Meetings this week have potential to transform Sandy's core

Urban renewal discussion

Before its Wednesday, Jan. 23 meeting - rescheduled due to the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday - the Sandy City Council will hold a workshop about urban renewal projects at 6 p.m.

The council is looking at extending the city's urban renewal district, a tool that allows local governments to redevelop and recover communities in need of a facelift. As part of forming the district, the city of Sandy froze the assessed property value for commercial areas in the city in 1998.

Any increase in commercial properties' value - or rather, the amount of property tax that could be assessed - goes into the urban renewal district.

Projects that have been paid for by urban renewal funds include the city's free parking lot, the utility wires undergrounding and downtown streetscaping.

'We have a policy question with big implications,' said City Manager Scott Lazenby. 'The question is, how much of an extension do we do? Do we finish up projects that are in the foreground now, or do we do some more?'

Projects on the horizon include a city plaza at the corner of Pioneer Boulevard and Hoffmann Avenue, on the former chamber lot where the Christmas tree most recently sat.

Other ideas for urban renewal funds include giving businesses incentives - matching funds - for retrofitting their façades and architectural features to the pending 'Sandy Style' design theme, and helping to construct a combined police/fire station.

'Sandy Style' hearing

Starting at 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 28, the Sandy Planning Commission will hold its final public hearing for the new 'Sandy Style' commercial building design standards, where the land-use body will decide whether to forward them to the City Council.

The Planning Commission has been working on the design standards - a Cascadian-inspired palette - for the better part of a year and most recently has worked with local business owners to arrive at a final product that best meets the goals of all parties involved.

Public comments will be allowed. For more information, visit www.cityofsandy.com.

The City Council will decide next month if the standards will become part of the city's development code.