Common Ground | Cover Story | Salt Lake City Weekly

June 29, 2022 News » Cover Story

Common Ground 

Millcreek leans into summer with its new city-center plaza.

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  • Rob Norbutt

The long-planned Millcreek Common is now open, giving the historic east-side community a central gathering space and offering something fun for everyone this summer season.

Open daily, the Common (located off 3300 South between 1300 East and Highland Drive at 1354 E. Chambers Ave.) features a roller skating loop—which will become an ice-skating loop in cooler months—and will host the recurring Food Truck Thursday events, which are an ideal spot for a casual night out. On Saturdays, the space hosts a live DJ to get everyone up and dancing, or skating, if you are so inclined. Skates are available for rent, and other free activities for the kiddos are hosted at the Adventure Hub.

Incorporated as a city in 2016, Millcreek's city government has been hard at work creating a general plan. The idea for Millcreek Common came from a series of feedback opportunities given to residents as part of the planning process.

Through surveys and conversations with residents, Millcreek Mayor Jeff Silvestrini said that a frequent request of the nascent city government was to establish areas for people to come together, see their neighbors and have fun.

"One of the things that we heard from our residents over and over was, 'Where is Millcreek's downtown?'" Silvestrini said.

Millcreek envisions the Common as a new “downtown” for the eastside city. - ROB NORBUTT
  • Rob Norbutt
  • Millcreek envisions the Common as a new “downtown” for the eastside city.

After the general plan's approval, the Millcreek City Council went to work on a master plan for its city center, which was adopted in June 2019. A $20 million bond was issued, and the city then broke ground on what would become Millcreek Common in March 2021. The construction finished up just in time for the 2022 summer season.

Bonding debt for the project is expected to be repaid through property tax from new developments in the area, without the need for an additional burden on Millcreek taxpayers.

Today, Phase I of the Millcreek Common project—which includes the buildout of the plaza, the skating loop and some retail space on the ground level—is almost complete, covering roughly 2 acres. A splash pad for kids is slated to open in July with plenty of benches for seating and umbrellas for shade. When daytime temperatures drop below 50, the loop will be prepared for ice skating, with fire pits to provide warmth.

In naming the plaza the "Common," the goal was for "the 'common' people to come together with a 'common interest,'" says Holly "Sparkles" Jensen, Millcreek's Adventure Hub Sports development manager. "We want the area to be used all day, every day, by everyone. We want them to experience all the things on the loop."

In addition to creating the social and entertainment space of the Common, Millcreek City government has been on the move—so to speak—since its incorporation and will soon be moving into new and permanent digs currently under development.

Food trucks, shaded seating and entertainment make for an easy date. - ROB NORBUTT
  • Rob Norbutt
  • Food trucks, shaded seating and entertainment make for an easy date.

As the city is currently leasing its space, Silvestrini stressed the need for new city offices. "Our landlord told us they wanted to be part of the redevelopment of this area. We are building a new city hall, and we are incorporating the police department into it as well."

Much like the desire for a downtown area, Silvestrini said residents were vocal about establishing a permanent home for the city council and administrative offices.

"People felt the city should own its city hall and not rent it," he said. "They also wanted to see things that the public could utilize as well. We want to engage our entire community and celebrate our diversity."

The new city hall is slated to have a ground-floor public market, an incubator space for new restaurants and open event space for booth setups and to accommodate arts and crafts shows and other functions. Additional event space on the building's sixth floor can accommodate up to 180 people. The city has also obtained an outdoor recreation grant and plans to put an outdoor climbing wall on the building that will be the largest in the state.

Parts of Phase II are underway and will include a mixed-used development with green space along the Wasatch fault line, an outdoor amphitheater, housing, office space and retail. The second phase is scheduled for completion in August 2023 and will be connected by bike paths and walkable infrastructure.

Once completed, the city center project will cover a roughly 4-acre area in the heart of the Millcreek community.

"This area is going to transform into a much denser area," said Silvestrini. "There will be a lot more housing, offices, restaurants and retail space. We hope that people will come enjoy the space from other parts of the valley."

Saturdays at the Common feature live DJ performances. - ROB NORBUTT
  • Rob Norbutt
  • Saturdays at the Common feature live DJ performances.

Millcreek Common
1354 E. Chambers Ave., Millcreek
Daily: Skate Loop—rentals available 5-10 p.m.
Weekdays: Playtivities—free, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Thursdays: Food Truck Rally—5-8 p.m.
Fridays: G.O.A.T—7-10 p.m.
Saturdays: DJ Skate Night—7-10 p.m.
Opening July 2022:
Daily: Millcreek Springs Splash Pad—10 a.m.-10 p.m.

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