Downtown planners from cities throughout the United States said Thursday that Salt Lake City's downtown is clean, but suffers from a lack of vision.
Fifteen board members of the International Downtown Association met in a town meeting to give their impressions of downtown Salt Lake City and talk about how special downtown "management districts" have fared in their communities. Many of the districts are funded through special tax assessments.The board members will hold their annual retreat this weekend in Park City. The association has 400 members representing government agencies, businesses and public and private downtown organizations.
Salt Lake officials are contemplating forming a downtown alliance and possible management district for an area bordered by South Temple, 200 East, 600 South and 300 West. Currently four different organizations manage and plan for the downtown area.
Board members said while they heard community leaders talking passionately about the downtown, leaders weren't excited about it. They said there seems to be a lack of shared vision and that leaders fail to speak with one voice.
"You have far more assets than problems. All of the pieces are here," said Richard H. Bradley, president of the Washington, D.C., International Downtown Association.
Board members represent downtowns as diverse as Chicago and Burlington, Vt. Their consensus was that Salt Lake City is clean. The board complimented the city on the amount of retail business in the downtown, primarily in the Crossroads and ZCMI Center malls.
A representative for Newark, N.J., said he is suffering from "pure jealousy" during his first visit to Salt Lake City.
At the same time, the group said mall entrances are difficult to find and don't lure visitors in. In particular, Bradley said the north entrance of Crossroads Plaza fails to invite some of the 5 million yearly Temple Square visitors across the street and inside.
"I don't know who would want to go across that street," he said.
Penrose Jackson, executive director of the Church Street Marketplace in Burlington, Vt., said downtown streets may be filled with friendly people, but they aren't "pedestrian friendly."
Best and worst of downtown S.L.
- Amount of retail business in downtown
- Filled with solid monuments
- Strong neighborhoods close-byWorst
- Lack of "linkages" between major points
- Mall entrances are hard to find
- Too few signs for pedestrians, visitors
- "Internally oriented" with the two malls
- No one downtown promotion organization
- Wide Streets that handle heavy traffic but impede pedestrian movement.