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Sugarhouse could be SLC's first real college neighborhood

by Eric S. Peterson
- Posted // 2010-07-14 -

Westminster College has a vision to expand the campus in a way that enmeshes it right into the Sugarhouse business district. Providing the perfect element to a walkable neighborhood—college kids. Annalisa Steggell-Holcombe of Westminster College’s community relations board shared the institution’s 10 to 20 year vision for its urban campus expansion today with the Salt Lake City’s Business Advisory Council.

The plan envisions expanding the campus into small satellite areas into Sugarhouse that would add an additional 2.7 acres to the campus spread throughout the neighborhood and business district. What excited many with Business Advisory Council was the idea not only that Westminster could expand it’s landlocked campus but that it could also promote Sugarhouse’s already vibrant pedestrian community by spreading the campus between the business district and it’s existing location at 1840 S. 1300 East.

Steggell-Holcombe says potential extensions would include a site next to Sugarhouse Park that would include a mix of retail space, student housing for Westminster Juniors and Seniors as well as classroom teaching space. The classroom space in the heart of the business district would also integrate students with local business by reserving class space to "small business incubators" as Steggell-Holcombe described the spaces where nearby business professionals could come in on rotating schedules and interface with students on different subjects from marketing and advertising to small business law. “[Small business] is really crucial to the fabric of Sugarhouse,” Steggell-Holcombe told the council of the plan. She described the community integration as part of a new paradigm the campus is promoting. “No longer are teachers going to be the ‘sage on the stage’ but rather the ‘guy on the side,’” Steggell-Holcombe said, describing the emphasis on real-life coaching and mentoring instructors would provide.

Another satellite to the campus is the old Garfield Elementary School 1838 S. 1500 East, that Westminster is in the final process of obtaining. The college would renovate the historic building and be able to use the 13,000 square foot space for classrooms and administration. The college is even considering plans to possibly partner with the Woodbury Corporation as well as the city Redevelopment Agency to convert the RDA’s nearby Wilmington property into a unique community garden with, retail shops around the perimeter and college class facilities on site.

For council member David Farmer making the most out of such a small space was one of the most impressive aspects of the proposal. “Just keep in mind the Davis Applied Technology College sits on 65 acres. This project is able to spread campus around 27 acres of the neighborhood and [allow students] to be able to walk it.”

The plans are all ambitious at this early phase of the plan’s development but for Steggell-Holcombe the objective to expand by integrating, instead of overtaking, just makes sense. “We’re very sensitive to and want to relate to the look and feel of whatever neighborhood we’re in,” she told the council.

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