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As Logan Grows, Future Of Historic Downtown Hangs In The Balance

Katherine Taylor
Sitting on her front porch with a copy the City of Logan's general plan in her lap, Susan Bird shows a portion of the text she's marked as part of the Garden Park Apartments debate (Logan, Utah, July 31, 2017).

After protests from residents, plans to build a controversial 120-unit apartment complex in downtown Logan were ultimately canceled. 

Though the controversy surrounding the apartments has ended, the questions it raised remain: What exactly is in the plans for downtown Logan, and how will it be interpreted in the future? How will preservation and growth be balanced?

During the height of the Garden Park Apartments debate, people on all sides were talking about various city documents, including the general plan and the downtown specific plan.

Residents living in downtown, including Susan Bird, opposed the apartment complex, saying it conflicted with what the general plan outlines as priorities.

“We are disregarding all the plans that have actually been in the big city plan,” Bird said. “You know, they say, ‘preserve the character and qualities of downtown Logan.’"

In the Logan General Plan, nearly all of the area that falls under the downtown specific plan is also designated as town center.

The downtown specific plan says town center should be used for “office, retail, residential, and civic uses.” The reasons for the designation contain the heart of the issue: balancing the area’s history and culture with the inevitable growth that comes with being an economic hub of the valley.

On Aug. 8, the city is holding a town center zone public meeting to clarify the plans for town center and downtown Logan. Mike DeSimone, director of Community Development, said this meeting is a way of getting community input on how Logan’s growing population will be accommodated in the downtown area.

“It’s only going to get worse,” he said. “I mean, that’s the challenge, is trying to make them understand, look, we also have to accommodate the growth everywhere else, because they’re coming into Logan.”

According to DeSimone, Logan is already the working and commercial hub of Cache Valley, so growth in other areas affects Logan. The city’s population is expected to double by 2050. Finding a way to balance that growth with Logan’s character is a question the city is still trying to answer.

“I mean, how do you do that without destroying some neighborhoods? We wrestle with that every day,” he said. “That’s kind of the bigger part of the story, is trying to accommodate growth without destroying the character that everybody loves and enjoys here. It’s a sleepy little area, it’s beautiful, it’s green, it’s wide open, but you put another 100 or 200,000 people in there, what’s going to happen then? Does it become West Valley? Does it become a suburb of Salt Lake City? If we’re not careful, it will be.”