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The Gayborhood goes wild

by on July 2, 2012

With all the excitement generated by the opening of a suburban mall in the heart of Salt Lake City and new plans for a beige highrise in the Sugar Hole,  I thought I’d check on the stalled redevelopment of the north-end of 300 West–sometimes called the historic Marmalade-Gayborhood District.

The city’s Redevelopment Agency saw development skid to a halt in the M-G with the recession. The instant-ghost town of retail spaces the RDA threw up on 300 West remain empty except for a Landis salon.

Over the winter, a private developer put in a dollar store to compete with the hood’s locally owned 7-Eleven (shout out to Mark the Merchant!) and the nearby family-owned E-Z Mart (행운을 빌어요 !).

But what seemed like the biggest loss of momentum, the stalling of the huge Howa development at the corner of 300 West/600 North has become a win for the neighborhood. Over the last winter, a wetlands has developed in Marmalade Hole. I checked it out this week and discovered an emergent wildlife sanctuary.

In five minutes on the shores of Lake Howa, I observed: Mr. & Mrs. mallards, western king bird, a killdeer family, barn and cliff  swallows and a sharp-shinned hawk, that made everyone nervous. (Earlier this spring Canada geese made a stopover).

In short, the recession has given 300 West neighborhood something perhaps more wonderful than another mixed use development. Now, we need to get President Obama to designate it a national monument. (After all, it’s in Rep. Rob Bishop’s district.)

Finally, I was taken aback to see a sheep-herder’s trailer parked next to Club Jam.

WTF? A sheep herder cracked under his mountain solidtude and lit out for the big city? Or is Jam going to sponsor a “Brokeback Mountain” pageant to compete with the Manti Miracle Pageant?

I love this neighborhood.

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