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Jed Boal ReportingIn mid-October the Salt Lake City Council will decide whether to allow Nordstrom to open a store in The Gateway. Tonight those with vested interests and independent experts gave the council plenty of input.
Right now the zoning for The Gateway does not allow a store the size of Nordstrom to build there. City Council could change that October 14th, but the issue is much bigger than Nordstrom, so the council is gathering a lot of advice.
Even before The Gateway opened Nordstrom warned it would leave Crossroads Mall. The retailer likes The Gateway, but the zoning agreement says no. Many core downtown businesses object and the planning commission recommends against it too.
The council is gathering opinions before an October 14th vote, but it's not all about Nordstrom.
Eric Jergensen, Salt Lake City Council Member: “I think you'll notice that the word Nordstrom, yes, it's been there, but this has been mostly an urban planning discussion."
Several urban planning experts suggest the Gateway and Main Street are not in competition and losing Nordstrom would sound an alarm to other retailers eyeing the situation.
Stanley Eichelbaum, Marketing Development Consultant: “Smart growth needs smart development, which means smart permissibility by the local governments."
Despite the original agreement, the developer thinks Nordstrom belongs at Gateway and benefits downtown development.
Roger Boyer, The Boyer Company: “Give us a new definition of department store, or give us department store zoning to put all of downtown on a level playing field."
The Dean of the College of Architecture and Planning at the University of Utah moved here a year-and-a-half ago. She argues the city has extraordinary assets.
Brenda Case Scheer, Dean of the Coll. of Architecture and Planning: “We need to squash, very quickly, the perception the downtown is dying. It is only because we have allowed a few vacant storefronts to stir us into an unwarranted frenzy, that we are not dancing in the streets and promoting ourselves nationwide as the most fabulous downtown in the country."
Dale Lambert, Salt Lake City Council Member: “Obviously, compared to many cities we're in a lot better position and have a lot of assets we can build on."
There's a public hearing October 7th. The city council will decide the matter one week later.