Fairmont-Sugar House: Salt Lake City, Utah

Summary

There's so much to Fairmont you might call it a mini–Salt Lake City, an east-side community with a commercial center so vibrant it's often referred to as the city's second downtown. Fairmont affords awe-inspiring views of the Wasatch Mountains and connects to city founder Brigham Young through a park that was part of Young's forest farm.Known at one time as the "Furniture Capital of the West" because of a concentration of furniture stores, the neighborhood now has hundreds of small businesses, a shopping center, and an expanding cultural arts scene with galleries, theaters, and public art, including the historic, 1930 obelisk on Monument Plaza.

Designated Area

Designated area bounded by 2100 South Street to the north; 1300 East Street to the east; I-80 to the south; and 700 East Street to the west.

Students selling pumpkins during a Farmer's Market in Sugar House's Fairmont neighborhood, which has a decades-long tradition of citizens being engaged in local planning. Photo courtesy Laurie Bray.

Planning Excellence

Recent public and private investment in the neighborhood has topped $455 million including a street car line, set to open in late 2013, that will connect Fairmont and other Sugar House stops with the city's light rail system. "The Draw," a pedestrian passageway also to be completed in 2013, will connect Fairmont's commercial area with Sugar House Park and Hidden Hollow, another public space.

In addition, nearly two million square feet of additional retail office and residential development is planned and will complement 1,000 residential units underway. The changes represent a dramatic reversal of the decline and disinvestment Fairmont and Sugar House experienced between the end of World War II and 1985 when the Sugar House Community Master Plan, including Fairmont, was approved.

Fairmont's business and commercial area is so popular residents consider it Salt Lake City's second downtown. Photo courtesy Laurie Bray.

Defining Characteristics, Features

Physical Attributes, Amenities

  • One of 15 neighborhoods that compose Sugar House; 30 acres divided between commercial (40 percent), residential (40 percent) and park (20 percent) uses
  • Two parks in neighborhood — Fairmont Park and Hidden Hollow Natural Area; adjacent Sugar House Park has sports fields, playgrounds, bike trails, lake
  • The Draw, pedestrian and bicycle pathway to be completed in 2013 to connect Hidden Hollow and the business district to Sugar House Park
  • Community events include Sugar House Fireworks and Arts Festival (July 4), Hidden Hollow Concert Series, Sugar House Jazz Festival, Sounds of Summer

Neighborhood History, Architecture

  • First farm in area established 1848; area officially named in 1854 after historic Mormon migration to Salt Lake Valley
  • Sugar House has nation's first sugar mill; mill made paper, buttons, buckets, and wool instead of sugar between 1855 and 1928; first paper mill in Western U.S.
  • Fairmont initially a streetcar suburb (electric street car served 1100 East Street); Sugar House's oldest residential subdivision
  • Most homes late Victorian, constructed 1900 to 1910; also Bungalows (1910-1930), Tudors (1920-1940), Ranch and Ramblers (post–World War II)
  •  Forest Dale Historic District of Fairmont has tree-lined streets, uniform setbacks, housing that is similar in scale; 2009 added to National Register of Historic Places

Planning

  • Four years spent to produce Sugar House Community Master Plan (1985); 2001 city approves update of plan
  • Business Improvement District for City Beautification 1982-1985; includes roadway repair, paving treatment, lighting for Fairmont
  • $40 million secured in 2009 to add street car line (six stations) in 2013 connecting Fairmont and Sugar House to existing South Salt Lake City TRAX station
  • Sugar House Business District designated a Salt Lake City Redevelopment Agency project area (1986) to address decline of area; Sugar House Business District Plan, including design guidelines, written 1988

One amenity near Fairmont is Sugar House Park, which has commanding views of the Wasatch Mountains. Photo courtesy Laurie Bray.

Community Engagement

  • Extensive public participation; for 35 years citizens have participated in every planning process affecting the neighborhood
  • Sugar House Community Council objections to historic building demolitions lead city to enforce ordinance delaying demolitions until building permits approved
  • Hawthorne Elementary School students led rally in 1990 to save Fairmont's Hidden Hollow Natural Area from being paved into a parking lot
  • Weekly farmers market; residents turned unused tennis courts into local garden