Make fun a part of downtown SLC’s growth, says author

As Salt Lake City leaders talked about new skyscrapers being built downtown and honored people who had helped improve the city, an author and urban expert made the case for making cities fun.

Peter Kageyama, author of “For the Sake of Cities,” told those gathered for the Downtown AllianceThursday’s annual “State of Downtown” event that cities need to do the basics – like fix potholes, which are often residents’ most common complaint – but create truly livable and vibrant cities requires an element of fun.

Kageyama said it’s worth investing in public art projects, such as murals, which downtown Salt Lake City has in abundance. He quoted Denver”big blue bear», a massive public sculpture that creates a specific feeling of belonging.

“If we’re going to take downtown to the next level, that means taking things to the next level,” Kageyama said in the event’s opening speech. He mentioned the Gallivan Center as what “seems like a natural gathering place in the heart of your downtown. What can we do with that? How can we make it more fun? That’s a good question to start with.

Creating spaces for fun was part of Downtown Alliance’s annual report.

The entertainment sector is rebounding from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the alliance report. It is expected that 3 million tickets for downtown shows will be sold by the end of the year, and 900,000 visitors will pass through downtown with the return of summer festivals – such as Living Traditions , Utah Pride Festival, the Utah Arts Festival, the Days of ’47 Parade and Brewstillerie.

The alliance brings back Open streets, a program tried out during the pandemic, to block Main Street from South Temple to 400 South to car traffic during summer weekends for street performances, music and sidewalk dining. The 2022 version of the program begins on Memorial Day weekend and runs through Labor Day.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Salt Lake City is closing portions of Main Street to vehicular traffic on Saturday, May 29, 2021, to accommodate shoppers, diners and pedestrians in a resumption of the Downtown SLC Open Street program. ‘last year. The program returns for 2022, starting on Memorial Day weekend.

Work is still underway to relocate the Downtown Farmers’ Market from Pioneer Park to the Rio Grande building to create a permanent, year-round public market similar to Seattle’s Pike Place Market or San Francisco’s Ferry Terminal. .

And as downtown visitation rebounds to pre-pandemic levels – with 3 million people expected to be downtown by the end of the year – out-of-town investors and entrepreneurs who want opening bars and restaurants downtown are hampered by a lack of liquor licenses.

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall spoke about the explosion of growth the city is experiencing and discussed the benefits, as well as the challenges ahead, including adding affordable housing and green space for the residents.

Downtown Alliance executive director Dee Brewer noted that 11 major buildings are currently under construction downtown, including the Astra Tower, at 200 South and State St., which at 450 feet tall will be the tallest Salt Lake City’s tallest skyscraper when completed in 2024. (The current record holder, the Wells Fargo Building, is 422 feet tall.)

Other buildings currently under construction are:

Sundial Tower at 477 Main Street.

465 Maina 15-storey residential tower.

Tour of the domaina mixed-use development at 370 S. West Temple.

West District, Phase 2, another mixed-use building at 200 W. 125 South.

The Meridiana hotel at 131 S. 300 West, across from Vivint Smart Home Arena.

Charlesan apartment complex on 100 South.

160 South Main Streetanother residential tower, which will have 31 floors.

Asher Adamsa hotel at 20 S. 400 West.

Luxury Fashiona residential development at 242 S. 200 East.

• The Worthington, at 200 E. 300 South, another 31-story apartment complex.

This year, Downtown is adding 800,000 square feet of office space, with the 650 South Main and 95 State Buildings. The ongoing development of the Granary district and the influx of technology and life sciences companies are both contributing to a huge increase in downtown growth, according to the report.

The downtown residential population is expected to double over the next three years, the report adds, as a number of apartment complexes come online – 10,000 more residents by 2024, moving into nearly 4 000 new apartments or condos.

The cost of living downtown is rising; downtown single-family housing is up 25% from 2019. Meanwhile, the average downtown monthly rent is $1,400.

The alliance touts a Super Transit Corridor at 200 South, which it says will help ease traffic congestion as more people travel downtown. City planners are also considering new TRAX connections along the 400 West that would connect the Ballpark and Central Station neighborhoods to the University of Utah campus.

Thursday’s event also paid tribute to people who have worked to make the city a better place. One of them is former Salt Lake Tribune food reporter Kathy Stephenson, who retired last year and won acclaim for her coverage of the Utah food scene.

Stephenson was praised for her coverage of Jorge Fierro, owner of the Rico bean and tortilla factory. Fierro’s business has been displaced by downtown gentrification. After an article brought attention to his plight, he was able to find a new building for his business.

Other honorees included Russell Weeks—also a former Tribune reporter—for his decades of work as an urban planner at the Salt Lake City Corporation; musician Norbert Bueno, founder of a non-profit arts organization social antidote; Cowboy Partners and the Boyer Company, developers of the Freedom SKY apartments; and Downtown Ambassadorswho deal with, among other things, the city’s homeless population.

Lola R. McClure