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John Daley ReportingOne of Salt Lake's biggest controversies will be resolved tonight. For months the city council has wrestled with a decision on whether or not to allow the big downtown retailer Nordstrom to move to the Gateway development. Now it comes to a vote.
Only a couple of city council members have said how they'll vote. But both Gateway developers and the people at Nordstrom seem to be bracing themselves for the big thumbs down, a 'no' vote on if the city will allow the store to move.
Nordstrom has been a rock solid retail presence in downtown Salt Lake for a generation. Now the store seems to be the odd man out in a chess match involving the city's biggest players. With downtown struggling Nordstrom wanted to move to the Gateway. Its owner, the Boyer Company, the city's most powerful developer, has longed for a big retailer though city zoning rules until now have prevented that move.
The apparent tipping point came last week when the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints unveiled a breathtaking mega-million dollar plan to revamp downtown. The Church wants Nordstrom to stay and, if possible to be a part of their plans.
Caught in the middle is the Salt Lake City Council. Though it's not certain how they'll vote, the political wind appears to be blowing against Nordstrom.
Carlton Christensen, City Council Chairman: "My vote would be to not change the zoning. That's the commitment I made five years ago when we approved the gateway project. I think the terms and the basis of that decision really haven't changed regardless of the store."
Other city council members who have yet to reveal how they'll vote say the bottom line is what is best for downtown in the long run, and also how that meshes with the church's plans.
Dave Buhler, City Council Member: "They are planning to make an enormous investment of private capital into downtown. Do what's needed to be done for a long time with those two malls. So that's something we have to take very seriously."
Dale Lambert, City Council Member: “It has been an extraordinarily difficult decision and anybody who listened to our public hearing knows good cases can be made both ways."
The meeting starts at 7:00. The city council is expected to take its vote tonight.