Wednesday, July 11, 2007

A Tale of Two Malls

Valley Fair Mall in West Valley City scales back. Cottonwood Mall in Holladay goes for the big plan. Why are these projects apparently moving in opposite directions?

Of course there's a difference in location. Satterfield Helm Management, the Valley Fair developer, has cut out the residential element (a series of condo mid-rises) ostensible because it would set the project back two years, but let's face it, there's more demand for condos in Holladay than in West Valley City. Unspoken but bubbling under the "demand" issue is the fear that speculators would snap up the condos and turn them into big apartment buildings. It's happened before in West Valley City, and the results weren't pretty.

But I would submit that the real difference between the projects isn't where they are spatially but where they are temporally. Valley Fair has hit the point where the plan runs smack into reality. Current and potential tenants have demands, ranging from parking to completion dates, and you either meet those demands or you don't have tenants, a bad thing for any landlord. Cottonwood Mall is still in the dream stage. We'll see how well the plans survive when General Growth Properties realizes the logistical problems of demolishing and rebuilding a mall at the intersection of two busy and under-constructed roads and with an established, residential neighborhood on the third side. We'll also see how marketable their condos are when, in spite of being in Holladay, potential buyers see that the project faces marginal strip malls to the north and west.


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