Gloom once gathered over Block 29 downtown.
Not anymore.For the first time in 10 years, many elected officials and residents seem enthusiastic about a proposal to develop the empty block.
"It's beautiful. It looks like Bountiful. It's everything we've been saying should happen downtown," Councilman Les Foy said after hearing a plan presented this week by developer Clark Jenkins.
Jenkins showed the city's Redevelopment Agency, composed of the mayor and City Council, drawings of "Town Square." The blocklong series of shops styled in turn-of-the-century architecture would face Main Street.
Four retailers, one of them "the best merchandiser in the state" want to open stores in the development, said Jenkins, who represented Landforms Development Inc. The retailers would fill much of the project's first 30,000-square-foot phase, he said.
"We're ready. If I could get (the RDA) board's blessing, next month we could start," Jenkins said.
Renderings show two-story shops surrounding a small courtyard and parking area in the middle of the block. At the back of the block, which is bordered by Main and 100 West and by Center Street and 100 South, the company plans a 64-unit building for elderly tenants. The building would be the project's second phase.
Landforms views Town Square as a way to "put some theme" into downtown, making a visit "meaningful," Jenkins said.
A group of residents gathered around the project's drawings outside the City Council chambers. Most favored the plan.
"This is the first time the RDA has had a chance to do something downtown. I say go ahead with the development. Give downtown a heart," resident Del Holbrook said.
The proposal is the sixth in 11 years, the others failing for lack of financing or other problems.
"I've been watching all these guys fail. Their projects are too big; banks just won't finance that much risk," Jenkins said.
The RDA last month offered to sell Block 29 to the federal government for a post office. Board members have not considered withdrawing the offer despite Landforms' plan, Mayor Bob Linnell said.
Where they stand
Bountiful's Redevelopment Agency, composed of the mayor and City Council, has not yet accepted a plan to redevelop Block 29 downtown. The plan is gaining momentum among residents, but the RDA won't vote until the developer presents a more specific proposal to the board next month. Here's what City Council members think about the development:
John R. Cushing - "It's everything we've wanted."
Barbara Holt - "I favor what I've seen so far. I'm impressed, but we still need to study all our options."
Renee Coon - "(The plan) is worth looking into."
Harold Shafter - "I don't have to take a stand."
Leslie T. Foy - "It's beautiful. It looks like Bountiful. It's everything we've been saying should happen downtown."