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South Jordan Journal

Council reviews developer’s vision 
for 40-Acre, ‘Premier’ senior community

Feb 26, 2019 03:40PM ● By Jennifer J Johnson

One of the South Jordan City Council members cited seniors’ interest in walking, an amenity Leisure Villas assured the council that they incorporate in all of their communities. (Courtesy Leisure Villas)

By Jennifer J. Johnson | j.johnson@mycityjournals.com

“The Silver Tsunami.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, people age 65 and older, today’s “Baby Boomers,” will make up 20 percent of our national population in 2030. And Utah is one of 10 states in the country seeing the fastest growth of this “Silver Tsunami” aging population.

What does this mean to us in Salt Lake County? Many things, including the need for housing products tailored to suit the unique needs of seniors.

Leisure Villas seeking 17th ‘boomer’ community in So Jo


In early February, the South Jordan City Council heard from Leisure Villas, an 18-year veteran developer of 16 housing communities tailored to the needs of seniors.

Leisure Villas has its eye on developing a 40-acre South Jordan land parcel directly South of Salt Lake Community College and running along Bangerter Highway at 9400 South. 

The South Jordan Leisure Villas, developers say, would be its most premier community, to date, with a four-residence-per-acre density, yet would also be a very low-impact Planned Development (PD).

Being “low-impact” translates to not being a burden on the larger community, mainly in terms of traffic. South Jordan City planning is being careful to assess these types of considerations with planning proposals.

"The last project caused me to rethink how we do things,” South Jordan Director of Planning Steven Schaefermeyer told members of the Council and community members attending. “We are going to try to screen projects better,” he added, “[to] keep things moving forward and [preserve] a balance between predictability and flexibility."

‘Dialed in’ and delivering ‘The Largest Small House Possible’

Dave Erickson, director of development for Leisure Villas, promoted the company as a worthy partner for the city, and one able to uniquely tend to the needs of the senior population.

"We've dialed into what people want,” he said. “They don't really want to downsize. [They want] the largest small house possible."

This largest small house possible would look like senior homes as large as 2,700 square feet, with up to three bathrooms.

South Jordan City Council comments ranged from recommending what they consider quality materials such as “hardie board” (fiber cement siding) and brick, to even upping the number of pickleball courts within the community. Schaefermeyer reminded the council that the city does not dictate the exterior façade materials used, but declined comment on the pickleball recommendation.

One comment was a recommendation for the city to acquire property in-between Salt Lake Community College and the proposed development. “I like the way you're thinking,” Utah Rep. Dan McCay, one of the developers, responded.

The density quotient – raised by the councilman from Daybreak 

South Jordan City Councilman Jason T. McGuire, who represents residents of Daybreak, was the council member most concerned about what he depicted as the development’s “extreme” high-density.

In preparation for the council meeting, McGuire indicated having toured multiple South Valley Leisure Villas senior communities, including West Jordan’s Country Park Villas and Herriman’s Midas Creek Villas 55+ Community.

“I was struck with the feeling of high density,” he shared with the council. "I can go through Daybreak right now, and feel like it's a good project.”

However, McGuire indicated not having that same feeling about other Leisure Villas senior-living projects.

“Going through your other communities? I feel the density."

Daybreak hosts multiple senior communities and has done so for several years.

Developer Erickson, who later noted to his colleagues that the critique was “rich,” coming from a councilman representing Daybreak, attempted to assuage the concern.

The South Jordan project, he said, will have “a feeling of a normal, larger-lot subdivision.” Describing it in a way that all could relate to, Erickson added: “You cannot hand the soap to your neighbor through the bathroom window.” He further noted, “The streets will only be used on Christmas and Mother’s Day.”

Utah Congressman and vice president of the LDS Church’s Suburban Land Reserve Dan McCay is a partner in the project. McCay suggested that McGuire’s negative impression of the other senior communities was due to his viewing incomplete projects, or viewing them in winter time, when plant foliage is not at its spring and summertime max.

The density quotient - countered by the mayor of Lehi

Perhaps the most convincing response to McGuire’s concern was from Lehi Mayor Mark Johnson. Johnson, who was elected mayor in 2016, hosts three Leisure Villas senior communities in his city. Johnson views the Leisure Villas projects as “an asset to the community,” and one with “little impact on your streets during peak times.”

However, it should be stated that Johnson’s company, Mustang Design, was contracted by Leisure Villas, for planning services, for all three communities in Lehi and other planned developments.

In addressing the impact of density emanating from a Leisure Villas community, Johnson shared findings from a traffic study, commissioned by Provo-based transportation-engineering firm Hales Engineering. Hales principal Ryan Hales reported literal zero peak-traffic travel from older, wiser seniors able to run errands and visit friends and family during off hours. “These [findings] broke the typical traffic report,” he surmised.

"Our folks don't need to be anywhere at eight in the morning, typically," reasoned Erickson. "They want their grandkids to visit, but not stay.”

What the neighborhood wants

“Our project is in a few people’s backyards, but not many,” Leisure Villas President Brent Lindstrom told the South Jordan Journal in a phone interview.

Lindstrom, who indicated Leisure Villas seeks to benefit its surrounding community, said the developer is heads-down trying to figure out how to best resolve community concerns with a detention basin to prevent flooding and erosion adjacent to the southeast corner of property.

“Get the whole thing beautified” is Leisure Villa’s overall goal, he told the South Jordan Journal. “We’re trying to figure out the best way to do this. UDOT (Utah Department of Transportation) often puts restrictions on access from outsiders.

“When it comes to playing ball with UDOT, that’s really in their court, how much they will allow us to do." He concluded, “I would hope we’re a value to the community.”

What SoJo seniors want

The South Jordan Leisure Villas would include swimming pool, barbeque, clubhouse, and yes, pickleball facilities. Crediting the popular paddle sport combining badminton, tennis, and table tennis, Erickson quipped, “Now it’s mandatory that pickleball be added to communities.”

Councilwoman Tamara Zander, representing District 4, indicated that there should be ample walking trails in the community, which, curiously, “does not connect to anything,” yet has no in-community resources such as coffee shops, mini-marts, or other services.

Leisure Villas, however, indicated they tailor to the needs of seniors, making sure to adhere to all federal guidelines to be able to market its communities as “55+.” "We try to build our projects so that there is not a step in the community,” Erickson added. 

Developers anticipate South Jordan’s Leisure Villas would cost $400,000-$500,000 and have a $200 monthly HOA fee.

Additional perspective

Leisure Villas indicate that the project could be “years-away,” depending on zoning, planning and other gating items in the development process. There is currently no available product for potential residents or their advisors to assess or consider purchasing.

Request for comment, development timeline and procedural requirements, and meeting documents by Steve Schaefermeyer of South Jordan Planning and of Dave Erickson of Leisure Villas went unreturned.