Salt Lake City skyline and Main Street during the year of the Olympics:
Image from UrbanProjects (UtahUrbanForum.com)
Image from UrbanProjects (UtahUrbanForum.com)
Image from Deseret News
With the new Gateway Mall's success (a redevelopment project in the railway district just 3 blocks west of Main Street), the already failing Main Street shops and its two malls began to die even faster. After the Olympics came and left, Main Street began to look very much a like a ghost town. This demise is a very textbook case of what happens when you remove a thriving and richly cultivated local business culture in buildings from the turn of the century to replace it with big concrete box malls in the late 70's. Like much of the United States, Utah's population was fleeing to the suburbs and downtown became a victim of very poor redevelopment.
Salt Lake City was first settled in 1847 by the Mormon pioneers fleeing from persecution (in the wake of the assassination of the Prophet Joseph Smith) under the Prophet Brigham Young. Until the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad in 1869 there were really no major players outside of the Church in the Salt Lake Valley. So the Mormon Church on top of its striving to develop as a spiritual community also had to organize its members in a more temporal way to build roads and canals, plant crops, mine, build factories, etc. Eventually the Mormon (LDS) Church was able to move out of the colonizing business and in the 20th Century invested its assets into farming (all over the world), bank investments and the stock market.
So why have I offered a quick little history lesson? Because it helps give context as to why the Church is now spending an estimated 1.5 billion dollars from its for profit wing (not funded by LDS members donations to the Church) to completely rebuild 20 acres (two blocks) of land on both sides of Main Street. Why is this happening? Because the Church was tired of having an ugly and increasingly seedy area of Main Street right on the front door of Temple Square. It doesn’t look very good to visiting Church members and dignitaries from all over the world to see a run down part of the city right at the gates of your headquarters. And in reality this only really means taking funds from one area of for profit ventures and transferring it into the creation of another really profitable area (that happens to be in your backyard).
Thus we have the formation of the City Creek Reserve Inc.,the new commercial entity created in the for profit wing of the Church teaming up with the City Chamber of Commerce, City Planners and the City Council to create a 30 year development plan. This new cooperation of major city players is called the Downtown Alliance. The Post-Olympic Salt Lake City is the Downtown Rising Project. If you click on link I have provided you can see the extent of the projects that are planned. The largest being the new City Creek Center Mall which will open in March of 2012.
The Post-Olympic Salt Lake City: City Creek Center
Images by T-Mac (SkyscrapperPage)
Image by Viperlord (SkyscraperPage)
With exception to the buildings that are planned to remain standing (not very many), the entire two block (20 acres) project was dug out so that an entirely underground 5,000+ car parking lot could be constructed.
Here are the plans for the new Project that was created in a joined effort by the City Creek Reserve Inc., local Salt Lake City planners and Taubman Centers Inc.
Image by http://jfernandez-architect.com/sele...k%20index.html
Image by Taubman Centers Inc.
Here is a link for a virtual tour of the project:
The intent of the project was to create a timeless looking mall that would not trap people inside of the development, but rather, break up the giant two blocks into a with open space pedestrian corridors. Two major corridors will have a retractable roof to make the development still attractive as a destination during bad weather. The mall facade is built from hand laid brick that will differ at certain parts to bring back some of the old historical feel. The entire project is being built with a Silver LEED status in mind. The old mall's steel and concrete is being recycled into the new mall and it is being constructed by local companies with almost entirely local materials.
Images of the project from the last month:
Images by KSL.com
Images (from this week) by John Martin (SkyscraperPage)
Images by downtown_slc on Flickr AKA Viperlord (SkyscraperPage)
Main Street sits on one of the most heavily used lines of Light Rail is the United States which is going to get much busier when the airport line, and two other lines from the west part of the valley become operational in the next two years. I get to see this project progress every week day as I take the Commuter Train to Salt Lake City and then transfer to the light rail system that takes me through downtown and onto the University of Utah line.