Although the very last green shoots of Western Garden Centers near Trolley Square may be a year away, many Salt Lake Valley growers feel saddened by the news of their final closure.

Lon Clayton, longtime owner of the beloved Utah haven, says it is a cherished place. gardenVariety at 550 S. 600 Eastern will stay in full-service “for a couple more seasons” — at least. But as the founder’s son and lead property owner, he confirms they’re pursuing approval of a rezone of the property, with plans to ultimately close and sell the retail site for a residential development.

“It’s been a wonderful business to me and my family for generations,”Clayton was co-owner. He also mentioned that Lee Pettit, the long-time store manager, is included in the extended clan. “And it’s very sad for us to do it, but we’re old men now, and there’s nobody new in the family — or not in the family, for that matter — to take it over.”

(Chris Samuels | The Salt Lake Tribune) Western Garden Centers on 600 East in Salt Lake City, Monday, Dec. 20, 2021. The 70-year-old building is owned by the current owners. nurseryHave applied to rezone site with plans to replace it by a new apartment complex.

The decision to sell the choice 2.28-acre plot whenever the new zoning might go through has not hinged on money or rising land values, the owner said, nor any special urge to help build more apartments as part of the city’s latest growth spurt.

“What’s getting to us,”Clayton stated, “is old age. It’s a bittersweet pill for us to swallow, and we’ve hated to swallow it until we’re too old to unload packs of plants anymore.”

Clayton stated that Western Garden Centers would continue to operate while the commercial site is rezoned by City Hall. This is in partnership with Cottonwood Residential, which is based in Salt Lake City.

Another landmark goes — to more apartments

The Salt Lake Tribune). Lee Pettit leads a tour of Western Garden Centers at 600 East in Salt Lake City on Monday, December 20, 2021.| The Salt Lake Tribune) Lee Pettit gives a tour of Western Garden Centers on 600 East in Salt Lake City, Monday, Dec. 20, 2021. The 70-year old property is owned by the Pettit family. nurseryHave applied to rezone site with plans to replace it by a new apartment complex.

It’s a rare midblock parcel that size, one developers envision as an apartment project. Clayton and his partners are seeking to amend so-called “form-based zoning”, which would allow, among others, the addition of residential density and office uses to take over the 72-year-old. gardeningParking lot with ample space and hub

April was the first month of filing notices to request a zoning amendment. Cottonwood Residential presented the plan to the Central City Community Council. It was described as being between three and four stories tall. Developers also stated that they would like to use the new zoning. “as an opportunity to create a unique community within the neighborhood”With its own parking, and as a support for commercial outlets at Trolley Square.

The owners “view this redevelopment as a part of their retirement plan,”The request was made “and would not plan to remain in business in this location under different circumstances.”

(Salt Lake City). Map of the neighborhood around Western Garden Center, located at 550 S. 600 E in Salt Lake City. The parcel, which covers 2.28 acres, has been requested a rezone in order to allow multifamily housing.

The infill development in Central City is one of scores of similar projects taking shape in already established residential neighborhoods across Utah’s capital as open fields for new housing grow increasingly rare.

The list of long-standing and beloved retailers in the city that are closing down is long. However, this one is triggering a special feeling of loss for many green thumbs who have been long exposed to the harsh and finicky Wasatch climate.

There’s been a burst of “say it ain’t so”Pettit, who is also president at Western Garden Centers, said that there were many calls and bemused visitors from all over the Salt Lake Valley.

Some of that difficultly letting go has deep roots in the city’s history and landscapes. Employees have been cultivating and spreading plant wisdom for seventy years, supplying the city with all kinds of trees, perennials and vegetables, as well as pots and other supplies, which are easily accessible on open-air shelves or concrete paths.

Healing hearts, flourishing landscapes

The Salt Lake Tribune). Monday, December 20, 2021, Western Garden Centers will be open at 600 East in Salt Lake City.| The Salt Lake Tribune) Western Garden Centers on 600 East in Salt Lake City, Monday, Dec. 20, 2021. The 70-year-old building is owned by the current owners. nurseryHave applied to rezone site with plans to replace it by a new apartment complex.

Their products come from local growers and suppliers, making it a kind repository for Utah’s native plant species and earthen knowledge.

Helping growers find the right match for the prevailing conditions has helped to bind them to their own loved grounds, enlivening all those green spaces, pots, and patches dirt season after season across three generations of the Intermountain West.

“We’re plant geeks,”Pettit added, almost as though he was confessing. “We like what we do. It’s been fun to share that.”

The loss can be accompanied by a new layer of bonding. This is due to the healing and therapy that customers received in growing food during the worst pandemic. Pettit stated that the center increased curbside pickup during those early lockdowns and that business has continued to be strong throughout the seasons.

“People did turn to gardening because it helped soothe some of the challenges that COVID created,”He said. “And we tried to be there for them.”

The family’s Sandy location closed three years ago. There is still a location at 4050 West 4100 South in West Valley City. “we’ll keep that store going,”Pettit, 70 years old, said that “but there’s lots of customers from up this side of the valley that’ll never cross over, which is sad.”

Family affair — with plants

The Salt Lake Tribune). Lee Pettit leads a tour of Western Garden Centers at 600 East in Salt Lake City on Monday, December 20, 2021.| The Salt Lake Tribune) Lee Pettit gives a tour of Western Garden Centers on 600 East in Salt Lake City, Monday, Dec. 20, 2021. The 70-year old property is owned by the Pettit family. nurseryHave applied to rezone site with plans to replace it by a new apartment complex.

Lon Clayton, now 75, worked the east-side. gardenHe was a teenager when he first started at the regional center. Sub Clayton, his father, eventually took it over. gardeningbusiness in the 1920s, and helped to open the current outlet as of 1949. “Utah’s newest and largest nursery and seed center” under Porter Walton Co.

There were two special offers that inaugural February — a 50-cent six-pack of sweet peas in scarlet, salmon, lavender, white, rose-pink and medium blue along with five “world-renowned”There are many varieties of roses. “the start of a really fine rose garden” — for $4.95.

The Western Garden outlet was also able to withstand fierce competition over decades of rising dominance by national chain stores. This drove countless smaller outlets out of business. gardeningAnd nurseryUtah businesses are destined for oblivion.

Pettit stated that it came down to loyalty. “and shopping local.”

The Salt Lake Tribune). Western Gardens, 600 East, Salt Lake City, Monday Dec. 20, 2021.| The Salt Lake Tribune) Western Gardens on 600 East in Salt Lake City, Monday, Dec. 20, 2021. The 70-year-old property’s owners are nurseryHave applied to rezone site with plans to replace it by a new apartment complex.

“We’ve had a wonderful customer base and support,” he said one snowy day recently, walking by the store’s winnowed stocks of potted and fresh-cut Christmas trees.

“That’s been a nice, reliable local gardening place rather than a big-box store,”Judi Short, the first vice-chair of the Sugar House Community Council, also oversees the grounds at the Gilgal Sculpture Garden, 749 E.500 South.

“When you go in, people help you,”Short, “and they know what they’re talking about.”

An ivy-covered house adjoins the shop. nursery600 East was transformed into a small venue for events about a decade back, under the name Ivy House Weddings. Otherwise, Pettit said it’s kind of surprising how little the locale has changed overall, retaining much of the open feel and grower-centered simplicity it had from the time it opened.

(Chris Samuels | The Salt Lake Tribune) The event space at Western Garden Centers on 600 East in Salt Lake City, Monday, Dec. 20, 2021. The 70-year-old building is owned by the current owners. nurseryHave applied to rezone site with plans to replace it by a new apartment complex.

“We’ve appreciated the people who have trusted us with their gardens and lawns,”Clayton added, reflecting on its success. “We feel we have been well-rewarded for helping people and those who’ve been so kind and loyal to us over the years made that effort worthwhile.”

After a Dec. 8 hearing on the zoning change, the city’s planning commission has recommended the City Council approve the request. So now, because the parcel falls inside Central City’s historic district, the Historic Landmark Commission will review plans.

In January, discussions begin on plans for what else could be grown there in line with the look and feel in the surrounding neighborhood.

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