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Oakley considers land swap with businessman for city center development

This rendering of Oakley city center from Oct. 11, 2023, envisions a town square at the corner of Center Street (right) and state Route 32 (left). The statue is a commissioned piece by Don Weller, which depicts a rancher or a cowpoke depending which angle it's viewed from.
Oakley City Center Presentation, Oct. 11, 2023
This rendering of Oakley city center from Oct. 11, 2023, envisions a town square at the corner of Center Street (right) and state Route 32 (left). The statue is a commissioned piece by Don Weller, which depicts a rancher or a cowpoke depending which angle it's viewed from.

Planners and city councilmembers saw the most detailed renderings yet of a new Oakley city center Wednesday night.

Development team leader Kris Longson said a land swap would enable the vision he presented to the Oakley City Council and planning commission Oct. 11 to become a reality.

The latest renderings include a park and town square on the city center’s southern entrance, where the post office, Dutch’s Service Station and Ken’s Kash sit.

Businessman Steve Smith, who grew up in nearby Marion, owns most of the city center. He believes that kind of entrance would be “unlike any city in Utah.”

The park and town square would become part of a contiguous swath of city property that includes city hall and Cattleman’s Hall.

Smith’s team would get the city-owned land immediately east of city hall, to be used for a grocery store and small businesses. Retail owners prefer corner lots—but Longson said he’s hearing retail isn’t the community’s priority.

“And the comments we’ve heard—we really want to create a gathering place around city hall,” Longson said. “It's really important to have what you're considering as an entrance to your city on Center Street.”

Open space and gathering space was a priority many people expressed in Oakley’s recent community survey.

Ultimately, such a land swap would be approved much later in the development process, once the city center application moves from the planning commission to the city council.

But the development team needed to put it on the table at the joint meeting Oct. 11 to see if it was a possibility. If the city council doesn’t greenlight a land swap, it’s back to square one, and that could mean retail goes at the city center entrance instead of open space.

In the words of Mayor Zane Woolstenhulme, the “city council is not opposed” to a land swap. But any real vote on the matter can’t happen until Smith’s application officially reaches the city council.

There will be opportunities for public comment in the meantime.

The meeting also addressed community concerns about the size and scope of city center businesses.

Addressing worries the expanded Ken’s Kash would turn into a Smith’s or Costco and that Dutch’s would turn into a Maverik, the team assured city leaders the buildings proposed are not that big.

A Smith’s ranges in size from 60,000 to 135,000 square feet—a Costco can be double that—but the new Ken’s Kash would be 12,000 to 15,000 square feet.

A Maverik is usually around 6,000 square feet, but the new Dutch’s convenience store would be 2,500 square feet. There would be a new auto shop behind the convenience store, across state Route 32 from the rest of the city center.

When it comes to safely crossing state Route 32, talks with the Utah Department of Transportation haven’t yielded solutions yet.

Planning Commission Chair Cliff Goldthorpe said UDOT gave him the impression there wouldn’t be a streetlight on state Route 32 in their lifetime.

In the meantime, the development team has incorporated pedestrian pathways into their design on Smith’s land. Horse and bike parking has been added too.

Below is the development team's presentation, which features the latest maps and renderings: