Multi-million-dollar state grant to help fund infrastructure improvements needed for planned apartment complexJan 27, 2022 01:35PM ● By Carl Fauver
This artist rendering shows some of the planned Volta apartments. (thackeraycompany.com/multi-family/volta-taylorsville)
By Carl Fauver | [email protected]
It’s been nine months since the Taylorsville City Council unanimously approved a zoning change, clearing the way for construction of the largest apartment complex in the city’s 25-year history. But so far, no swinging wrecking balls or busy bulldozers have been spotted on the 16.49-acre site southwest of Bangerter Highway and 5400 South.
In fact, the only real change to come so far has been the massive project’s name. Initially, Salt Lake-based Thackeray Company, L.C. had branded its planned 647 apartment units – and at least 10,000 square feet of retail space – “West Point.” Now they’re calling it “Volta.”
But while dirt has not yet begun to fly, a lot of behind-the-scenes work is being completed to allow the physical changes to get underway later this year. Most of that preliminary effort is up to the developer. But Taylorsville City has millions of dollars’ worth of work to get done, too.
“For starters, we have to upgrade sewer lines along 5400 South and on 3200 West and 3600 West from 8” lines to 16” or 20” lines, to serve all the new residents (who will move into the completed Volta complex),” said Taylorsville Economic & Community Development Director Wayne Harper. “We expect sewer and water line improvements to cost about $3.5 million to $4 million. But with how high construction costs have gone over the past year, it could go as high as $5 million. That’s why this state grant is so important.”
That grant is $2.5 million the state has pledged to the city. It’s the largest state grant award Taylorsville City has ever received. Harper started in his city position nearly 10 years ago, in March 2012. In that decade on the job, he’s never seen anything like it.
“The largest state grants I can recall the city receiving were more like $10,000 to $50,000,” he explained. “So, this is a huge grant.”
In addition to his work for the city, Harper also represents Taylorsville as a state senator (Republican, District 6). As a Utah lawmaker, he’s well aware of how the state came up with the grant funding and what the requirements were for applying to receive part of it.
“During the last state legislative session, lawmakers set aside $85 million for infrastructure upgrades, mostly for sewer and water projects,” Harper explained. “Then they set aside another $35 million, with that grant money requiring matching funding from applicants. For the grant funding (Taylorsville City) is receiving, we had to demonstrate to the state we have matching money available.”
Harper added that $2.5 million was the most money any applicant could receive. As of mid-January, only four of those $2.5 million grants had been awarded by the State.
The grant funding is not expected to actually land in Taylorsville City coffers for a couple of months. But City Engineer Ben White says that delay won’t be an issue, because there are still many project details to iron out.
“It’s still premature to talk about a (construction) timeline,” White said. “For the water and sewer line improvements, we don’t yet have a contractor or even a design. The developer has not even submitted building permit requests yet.”
Everyone involved believes construction on the massive project will begin sometime this spring or summer.
For years, the dilapidated site has been home to vacant structures, including former Albertsons and Kmart stores. At least one of the adjacent strip mall stores does remain occupied and open for business. But it is surrounded by boarded up storefronts and weeds growing through cracks in the parking lot asphalt.
Harper says the local water utility will also pay a portion of the sewer and water line upgrade.
“The Taylorsville-Bennion Improvement District will fund part of the infrastructure improvements; but right now, we aren’t sure what portion that will be,” he added. “They will collect impact fees from new residents who move into the apartments to cover their costs.”
Mayor Kristie Overson is pleased with the way “Team Taylorsville” (city employees) went after the state grant funding.
“Whenever there is (potential grant funding) money out there, we go after whatever we can get,” Overson said. “We are very good at scouting out opportunities. We were thrilled to be awarded the state money.”
Harper says this pool of state money available for community grants is partially due to all of the federal COVID-19 funding Utah has received. But there are other reasons it’s there, too.
“Our state has a great economy now – our best economic conditions since 2005 to 2007, before the Great Recession,” he said. “You look at our two percent unemployment rate. It’s great. It’s been an unusual year or two.”
Since there is still no firm date on when Volta construction will even begin, it’s anyone’s guess as to when part of it will actually be completed and accepting renters. But once it is habitable, Thackeray Company brass are confident people will want to live there.
“Volta is a one-of-a-kind urban multi-family and retail development,” the company explains on its website (thackeraycompany.com/multi-family/volta-taylorsville). “Residents will enjoy sweeping views of the Wasatch Mountains and Oquirrh Range from the comfort of their modern and conveniently located apartment. Not only will Volta be a contemporary and modestly-priced residence, but it will feature unmatched amenities with gyms, pools, coworking spaces, dog parks, walking paths and access to retail and restaurants.”
When the city council approved the zoning change required for the Volta project last spring, Thackeray explained the 647 apartment units and 10,000 square feet of commercial space would be surrounded by nearly a thousand parking stalls, some on two levels.
“This is going to be such a significant upgrade to that area,” City Planner Mark McGrath said at the time. “This property will be second-to-none in Taylorsville in terms of appearance and walkability. We also hope this project will lead to higher quality (residential and retail) projects going in along 5400 South, west of this property.”
Part of the city’s new water and sewer line construction is scheduled to continue west on 5400 South, beyond the Volta acreage, specifically to accommodate anticipated growth in that area.
But as for the many questions neighboring residents have – starting with “When will you screw up my commute with all your construction?” – city officials still don’t have any firm answers.