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Renewal of grants for Main St. urged

Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson wants to resurrect the city's Main Street grant program.

Salt Lake City Redevelopment Agency director David Oka petitioned the RDA Board on Friday for more grants.

Earlier in the week, Oka had briefed City Council members, who also comprise the RDA Board, about increased interest in Main Street properties. Oka noted that many Main Street property owners have seen heightened interest in the retail space they own.

After the meeting, Oka noted the interested parties, "all want $20,000 though."

The reference was to the six $20,000 grants the RDA Board doled out in April. The grants were given to businesses, with few restrictions, on condition that they relocate or expand onto Main Street downtown between 400 South and South Temple.

Oka said that after the six original grants were given out city staffers received numerous telephone calls from businesses interested in the grant program.

In his memorandum to the RDA Board explaining the administration's reasons for expanding the grant program, Oka said that the allocation of an additional $100,000 for five more grants "will result in five new tenants on Main Street."

He also pointed out that Main Street property owners support the grant program.

But the grant program has its critics as well.

Oka said several local restaurant owners expressed dismay that the city was giving free money to encourage competitors to come to Main Street. For that reason, Oka is recommending that restaurants be excluded from further grants and only retailers should receiving the funding.

Other complaints about the grant program came from existing Main Street businesses who felt they should receive some grant money for living through TRAX light-rail construction, Oka wrote in his memo.


E-mail: bsnyder@desnews.com