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BOARD OKS NEW ROAD, LARGER BUILDINGS FOR BLOCK 57 DEVELOPMENT

A one-way street will cut through Block 57, and, hinting someone is interested in building on the block, the Salt Lake City Redevelopment Board has voted to allow larger buildings on its southern end.

But the road and the larger buildings will reduce the size of a public plaza being built inside the block - a plaza that redevelopment officials said they no longer can afford to make as large as planned.The Redevelopment Board, which is the City Council, voted Thursday night to change its master plan for the block - changes that members believe give them flexibility to work with developers. The changes were proposed by BRW Inc., the company hired to write the master plan.

Block 57, from 200 South to 300 South between State and Main streets, is considered by many city and redevelopment officials to be a key to the revitalization of downtown's southern end.

It has been a source of frustration for city officials in recent years. The Redevelopment Agency bought all but a small portion of the block and has hoped to attract a large development. They were successful on the northwest end, where a new 24-story building now stands. But much of the rest of the block either is vacant or filled with decaying, empty buildings.

Redevelopment Board members didn't say who was to build on 300 South, although they said it was no secret that someone is interested. Indeed, city and business officials have hinted for weeks that someone wants to build there. However, several potential developers have come and gone for more than a decade without any results.

The road will run west from State Street halfway through the block and turn south to 300 South. It will be 24-feet wide and primarily for drivers to drop off people going to restaurants or stores within the block.

Officials also believe the road will make the public plaza safer, providing fewer opportunities for criminals to hide.

About 40 people attended a public hearing Thursday about the road and other proposed changes. Most were concerned about pollution, heavy traffic on the road and about the proposed site for a hotel, which seems to change every time the Redevelopment Board meets.

Board members also were concerned about BRW's plans to include above-ground parking on the block. They originally wanted to restrict parking underground, and they voted Thursday to go above ground only as a last resort.