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S.L. adopts downtown economic plan

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After several revisions, amendments and deletions the Salt Lake City Council Tuesday finally adopted its much-ballyhooed economic policy statement for downtown, with less emphasis on Main Street than originally planned.

Even with the subdued focus on what is likely downtown's most famous and impoverished street, City Council members insisted they are not forsaking Main Street. Instead, they plan to continue their efforts to fill vacant store fronts on Main Street with retailers and other businesses.

"The City Council realizes that Main Street is the core of our downtown commercial, tourist and convention activity," council member Dale Lambert said. "To encourage the relocation of retail or other commercial businesses or other key anchors away from Main Street will undermine these activities to the long-term detriment of downtown, including The Gateway and other developments. The continued vitality of Main Street is essential to the economic and cultural health of our great city."

And while Lambert and other council members paid Main Street much lip service Tuesday, the council reworked its economic policy statement to lessen their commitment to the street.

Specifically, the council edited the statement: "No (Redevelopment Agency) dollars should go toward supporting any additional retail in the (central business district) that are not on Main Street until vacant Main Street locations are filled."

The new statement instead allows the council, acting as the RDA board, to monetarily support business development throughout the central business district, which is most of downtown, even if Main Street storefronts remain empty.

"RDA dollars should go toward supporting additional retail in all the CBD with a primary focus on filling vacant Main Street locations," the revised statement reads.

Council member Dave Buhler said the change was made because the council didn't want to tie its hands and not support businesses from coming downtown if they didn't want to open on Main Street.

The council also deleted part of the policy that called for the city to work with Salt Lake County to consider the feasibility of constructing a "Broadway-style" theater on or near Main Street.

The council reaffirmed its commitment to having Olympic legacy memorabilia downtown and encouraged owners of the Crossroads and ZCMI malls to upgrade their stores and make them more appealing to pedestrians. The policy emphasizes pedestrians, and the council even added an amendment calling for South Temple, 100 South, 200 South and 300 South to become more pedestrian-friendly to encourage foot traffic between The Gateway, West Temple and Main Street.

The policy statement is not binding, but the council, city staff and RDA staff will use the policy as a guide when making decisions regarding downtown.

"This document defines and expands on the necessity of a vital Main Street downtown," Councilman Eric Jergensen said. "This policy statement only becomes window dressing to the extent we don't use it."

E-MAIL: bsnyder@desnews.com