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Jed Boal ReportingA new national report applauds Salt Lake City for its revitalization and smart growth strategies. The Sierra Club features our capital city as one of twelve shining cities with a focused future -- significant revitalization, visionary leadership, a bright future.
Marc Heileson, Sierra Club: "Today we're being shown off as a leader in the nation for doing good things to revitalize our downtown with smart growth."
They're all things a city likes to hear about itself and it's all in the Sierra Club's "Building Better: A Guide to America's Best New Development Projects." They say, "Mayor Rocky Anderson and the Salt Lake City Redevelopment Agency provided strong leadership and helped focus efforts on revitalizing and contributing towards Salt Lake City's renaissance."
Rocky Anderson, Mayor of Salt Lake City: "There are so many connections we see between good environmentalism, good sustainable economic development, and quality of life."
Salt Lake has redeveloped existing areas rather than sprawling. It's also locating homes, shops and offices closely together. The report points specifically to two areas: The Central Business District pronounced "dead" several years ago, and Gateway, which rose from an abandoned rail yard.
Marc Heileson: "Salt Lake was in real trouble ten, even five years ago. With the new lifeblood coming back with light rail, we're starting to take it back."
The Sierra Club says the success of TRAX has fueled a lot of this smart growth. With an average daily ridership of 52-thousand, that is twice what was expected for the year 2020.
Rocky Anderson, Mayor of Salt Lake City: "As you look at the pattern of development in the downtown area, it's all within a block of a light rail station, or light rail line."
The Sierra Club has a reputation for being particular about its praise so this report is no empty accolade. The report credits Envision Utah for promoting a smart growth blueprint and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for its commitment to redevelop the downtown malls to the tune of 500 million dollars.
Marc Heileson: "We're saying that if it can happen in Utah, it can happen in other places in America."
Growth and development go on, the Sierra Club believes, those patterns of development determine our quality of life.