Mayor and LDS Church at Odds Over Downtown Plans

Mayor and LDS Church at Odds Over Downtown Plans

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Shelley Osterloh ReportingA plan to redevelop downtown Salt Lake City's shopping malls is still shrouded in secrecy. And that secrecy continues to put the mayor at odds with a major downtown landowner, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Part of the reason for suspicion, worry, even agitation, lies one block north of the capitol city's two malls. Main Street plaza was a significant, divisive, and classified project at the beginning. For Mayor Rocky Anderson it's worth trying to avoid that history with the mall project.

Mayor Rocky Anderson: ā€œIā€™m trying to be inclusive and make sure everyone has a voice.ā€

But the more the mayor fights to be in on plans to renovate downtown, the more it irritates people who matter. For instance, Anderson is against enclosed malls. He vows to fight the idea of a sky bridge over Main Street.

Salt Lake's Chamber of Commerce is one man willing to wait before being critical.

Lane Beatty, Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce: "They position themselves to drive issues, like the skybridge. We don't even know if they're going to propose a sky bridge, or what it's going to look like."

Anderson and Beatty debated on the radio while the mayor was guest hosting a radio talk show. That was one of several public clashes the mayor is having with people who think he should be more appreciative of the Church's half-a-billion dollar investment downtown.

Lane Beatty: "We have a wonderful opportunity to be a part of that and have that kind of dialogue. And throwing water and spitting at people is not the way you go about doing that."

Mayor Rocky Anderson: "I know they want to do the best thing they can, I just think we need greater input, greater dialogue. That's a very healthy thing for a community."

The mayor often takes the heat for taking on the mall plans, but he says he's not alone. The bottom line is that the mall property is private property and its development is being planned accordingly. Construction on the mall project is scheduled to start this summer. Several mall tenants are already looking for temporary spots elsewhere in the city in the meantime.

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