Holladay, Utah – Salt Lake County

November 30, 2023

Holladay, Utah

A Unique Place to Call Home


Tradition and History Meet Modern Suburban Living in the dynamic city of Holladay, Utah

Although Holladay, Utah became an incorporated city in 1999, it boasts a rich history and strong traditions dating back to its founding in 1847. As one of the state’s oldest communities, Holladay has preserved its historical roots while evolving into a modern city with a charming character and a strong sense of heritage.

Today, it is a suburban city known for its scenic beauty, strong community ties, and scenic views of the Wasatch Mountain range. Holladay seamlessly combines a small-town ambiance with the convenience of proximity to Salt Lake City, offering residents access to a wealth of outdoor recreational opportunities such as hiking and skiing, as well as a diverse array of dining and shopping options. The city’s family-friendly atmosphere and close-knit community make it a highly desirable place to live in the Salt Lake Valley.

July 4th

An Evolving Community

Regarding the evolution of the city, Community and Economic Development Director, Jon Teerlink says, “We incorporated in 1999 to 2000 from Salt Lake County. Since then, we’ve had three separate annexations of the county area, which creates our current boundaries and population.”

As a bedroom community, the current population of the city is just over 31,000 people, and Teerlink reports a shift in the age demographic over the last 10 years, with growth in the 33-55-year-old range. “So, we’re seeing an increase of younger families moving back into our neighborhoods,” he maintains. On the housing side, Teerlink describes an area that was once orchards and farmland, which has morphed into large 1 to 3-acre estate properties over generations. These properties approximately cover 35% of Holladay’s residential land area, with the rest primarily made up of single-family detached homes.

The Influence of Arts and Culture

Holladay’s Mayor Rob Dahle speaks to the vibrant arts and culture scene in the community, sharing that the city’s Arts Council has seen significant growth in the past few years, organizing a wide range of events. One of the most prominent is the summer concert series, which brings 10 free concerts to the city, starting with Holladay City sponsored July Fourth celebration that attracts around 10,000 people. As part of this event, Holladay City hosts a community breakfast, a time-honored tradition that the residents of Holladay look forward to enjoying as part of the festivities.

The Arts Council also hosts art shows, a dance program, and the much-anticipated Blue Moon Festival, which draws thousands of attendees. As the current director of the Arts Council prepares to retire, Dahle says the city is prepared to expand this role into a full-time position. “Our residents are asking for more of that, they enjoy it. We’re hoping there’s an opportunity to maybe expand what the Arts Council has offered,” he relays. The Historical Commission also contributes to the vibrancy of the community, offering a speaker series on historical topics of interest to residents, among other initiatives.

The Intersection of Nature and Industry

The city’s industrial landscape features several prominent companies, including Black Diamond Equipment, a globally recognized manufacturer of outdoor apparel and gear, with a focus on ice climbing, mountaineering, and backcountry skiing. The city’s appeal lies in its blend of outdoor-oriented retailers and businesses. Maintaining strong relationships with these companies is a priority to ensure they have the support they need. Additionally, Gregory Backpacks, Scott Sports, and Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort, with its primary offices located in the city, are significant employers.

“Essentially we have this unique blend of retailers and businesses that are outdoor oriented. They are drawn to employees, especially those who want to live close to the recreational opportunities that we have. They can live in the city and work very close to what those products can offer as far as recreation,” Teerlink relays.

New Developments on the Horizon

As for new developments, the mayor admits, “Holladay is geographically a built-out community. So, there’s not a lot of room for expansion and creation of industrial areas and that sort of thing. In terms of the business community, I would call it stable, but not a lot of new growth.” One notable endeavor on the horizon is the Holladay Hills project, which will repurpose a 57-acre former mall site into a mixed-use development encompassing residential, commercial, and retail spaces.

The city is eagerly anticipating this project, as it will bring a substantial amount of retail and office space, totaling close to 700,000 square feet, to the area within the next four to eight years. “I think that is going to provide an opportunity to bring some bigger office users in that would appreciate the Holladay location as opposed to maybe a downtown location,” Dahle suggests.

Tax Philosophy and Infrastructure Investments

The “truth in taxation” philosophy in Utah dictates that when property values increase, mill rates must decrease to maintain consistent tax revenue. Any increase in revenue, beyond new growth, necessitates a public process, limiting the impact of inflation on property taxes. “It takes an inflationary component out of the property tax piece of your revenue pie,” acknowledges Mayor Dahle, who initiated an effort to increase tax revenue for the city 5 years ago.

He recounts, “We had not imposed a property tax increase in Holladay since its incorporation in 1999. The piece of the pie that kept shrinking was that public works pieces every year in the budget, like police and fire, all had an inflationary component that had to be absorbed. So, every year, the amount we had to invest in our infrastructure kept shrinking to the point where it was almost zero.”

To address the issue, the city embarked on a two-year education process to explain to residents the need for a property tax increase and the imposition of a storm drain fee to ensure the long-term health of its infrastructure. The efforts were successful, with little public resistance, and a 50% property tax increase and a storm drain fee were implemented.

The city also issued bonds to secure funding, investing approximately $8 million in roads over the last two years. “Our city engineer was saying that we have touched about 17% of our road infrastructure in terms of crack seals and overlays, and that sort of thing,” Dahle reports. “Now, that’s going to be ongoing, and we’ve also got additional revenue each year through that property tax to make sure we can invest to keep them at a minimum level of serviceability.”

Currently, the city is shifting its attention to the aging storm drain system, with significant investments in the coming years to address infrastructure issues in this area. “A lot of our infrastructure is very, very old and failing to include our storm drain system. Next year, we’ll invest three or $4 million in our storm drain system and about $10 million over the next three years,” he adds.

A Welcoming Community in a Unique Setting

As for what makes the city of Holladay special, Teerlink portrays, “It’s that sense of a small town, social environment. We have residents who want to be social. They come to all of the events that we put on, whether it’s a large scale, Fourth of July event, or even a small scale. I think for Holladay as a community, we are starting to create ourselves and develop in a way that you can visit with your neighbors in a retail area, or at an event without having to drive yourself to some sort of venue. It can all be found pretty locally, creating that culture of engagement within the community.”

The mayor adds his thoughts, describing the city’s commitment to preserving its mature tree canopy, symbolized by its membership in Tree City USA, and its forward-thinking approach.

“We’ve put an ordinance in place that encourages people to replace what they’re taking down, to make sure we keep that canopy alive and healthy for another generation,” he conveys. He stresses that Holladay’s exceptional location, combined with its distinct economic landscape, largely of locally driven businesses without major franchises, fosters a welcoming environment.

The city’s public school infrastructure is robust, rated highly, and supported by engaged parents, making it an attractive choice for families. The multi-generational appeal of Holladay is also evident, with residents often returning to their roots.

“It’s kind of interesting that you’ll see third and fourth and fifth generations that live here and many of the people leave and come back. They want to come back to the Holladay area. Holladay has a unique character that you don’t see very much around the state, at least in my opinion,” Dahle concludes.

Overall, Holladay’s diverse blend of natural beauty, location, local character, and community engagement makes it a standout place to call home.

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Holladay, Utah

What: A suburban city, with a friendly small-town charm.

Where: Salt Lake County, Utah

Website: www.cityofholladay.com


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November 2023 Issue of Business View Civil and Municipal

November 2023

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