Planner Says Downtown Doing Well

Planner Says Downtown Doing Well

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Keith McCord ReportingSeems like every day there's a new proposal about what to do with the malls on Main Street. Salt Lake County has now weighed in with some thoughts to go along with proposals from the LDS Church and others.

One planner says that many cities across the country have gone through similar challenges as they try to stay up-to-date and vibrant. It's part of a city's evolution. The good news here-- Salt Lake has taken care of itself well, and it needs to keep it up.

So why is it then that Salt Lake is still grappling with what to do in the downtown area? Brenda Scheer is the Dean of the University of Utah's College of Architecture and Planning. She's seen a lot of cities, and says Salt Lake's downtown is well-positioned for the future.

Brenda Scheer, Univ. of Utah Dean of College of Architecture & Planning: "Places like St. Louis, Cincinnati, or Cleveland, and even Baltimore, which would die to have a downtown with this much activity as this town has."

But she says tweaking here and there should be a continual process. As far as Main Street versus The Gateway is concerned, scenarios like this have played out in other cities. Scheer says part of the problem is people tend to want to hold on to the past.

Brenda Scheer, Univ. of Utah Dean of College of Architecture & Planning: "The battle here is different because it's part of having people understand that the city is actually larger than just main street. And that's a growing pain in a sense."

The city council is getting bombarded with thoughts, opinions and proposals about what to do. Time is critical too. In twelve days the council will make a decision that will determine whether Nordstrom stays or goes. Scheer says planning decisions like this shouldn't be made hastily, but she cautions that over-analyzing can hurt too.

Brenda Scheer, Univ. of Utah Dean of College of Architecture & Planning: "I think there's a great deal of unsettledness about it, and that causes retailers and office leases and people building things do not know what to do now. Once it's settled, it's settled, people can get on with their plans."

Scheer says Salt Lake has a good mix of office space, restaurants, night life. In a nutshell, she says, Salt Lake has done a lot of things right and other cities with they could say the same.

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