The Salt Lake City Planning and Zoning director, with some reservations, said state acquisition of the Union Pacific Railroad Depot is consistent with city planning efforts for west downtown Salt Lake City.
Union Pacific will donate the depot, 400 W. South Temple, to the state, which will turn it into a museum to house the 90-year-old, $2 million Utah fine art collection, Gov. Norm Bangerter announced Thursday.City planners and the Regional /Urban Design Assistance Team, an urban planner study group, envisioned an area focusing on Pierpont Avenue, nearly three blocks south of the depot, as a future cultural district.
But city Planning and Zoning Director Allen Johnson said the depot art museum is "consistent with the direction we're going."
"We support the concept of districting, but you have to understand it's not a whole segregation of uses," he said. He expects arts facilities in other areas of the city, as well.
Johnson, however, expressed concern that the depot, slated to become a museum next year, would be a premier attraction in an area that is still under-developed. The Fourth West area is "on the fringes" of what is now considered the downtown.
Later development being considered in that area, which could include the Salt Palace arena and a park, could rejuvenate the region, he said.
Planners also saw the Union Pacific Depot as a possible base for a light-rail system, an idea not entirely precluded by the creation of an arts museum, said city Arts Council Director Nancy Boskoff.
Boskoff called the acquisition a "great opportunity because the building will be used for public function."