Is this the future of Main Street? Salt Lake City unveils possible downtown design changes
Oct 18, 2023, 8:37 AM
(Carter Williams, KSL.com)
SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s capital city released four conceptual designs that could drastically change Main Street in the future, as it continues an effort to reimagine the vital corridor.
Salt Lake City’s Department of Economic Development launched a new online survey Tuesday, outlining options for residents to consider as the possible future of the street from South Temple to 400 South.
The section of Main Street is closed off to vehicles during the evenings on Friday and Saturday through Oct. 28, as a part of the city’s “Open Streets” program that originated in 2020.
The proposed permanent concepts are:
- Concept A: Transform Main Street to 132-foot-wide year-round pedestrian/transit corridor. This option would limit vehicular traffic to emergency, service and parking lot access only. Bikes and scooters would be banned, as well, though, they could be used on West Temple, which would also be improved. This concept also calls for “permanent play elements,” as well as public sculptures, kiosks, performance spaces, outdoor workspaces and a linear garden bed — and can be turned into a space for outdoor events and celebrations.
- Concept B: Turn Main Street into a permanent pedestrian-only mall, similar to Concept A on the east side of the TRAX line, but include space for bikes and scooters. The west side of the TRAX line would include “a consistent retail marketplace.”
- Concept C: Adjust Main Street so it can be used as a permanent pedestrian-only mall, similar to Concept A, but allow for vehicle use during the daytime on weekdays. Most vehicle use would be closed off in the evenings, on weekends or during holiday seasons to allow for community markets, bar/restaurant space and special events.
- Concept D: Preserve vehicle access on Main Street except for major events. This concept doesn’t include any pedestrian mall plans, but it would allow for cafes and retail stores to expand outward from their buildings. The plan also calls for “most of the existing trees” on the street to be removed for emergency vehicle access.
There is also a fifth concept included in the survey, which is to do nothing with Main Street at all. The survey also includes questions about similar possible changes to 100 South from Main Street to West Temple. It wraps up at the end of the month.
The concept of a pedestrian promenade was included in a report that the city released in 1962, looking into what the second century of the city might look like. The 61-year-old report noted, at the time, the city’s wide streets “make it virtually impossible for people to get everywhere they want within the core without driving,” adding that Main Street should be “highly oriented to the pedestrian.”
However, it wasn’t put into practice until the launch of Open Streets, which originated as a temporary way for businesses to operate more safely during the COVID-19 pandemic. Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall announced last year the city would study the idea further, working toward a more permanent option.
The survey launched Tuesday follows one the Department of Economic Development conducted in August which helped shape the conceptual designs. Department officials say they have also received community responses through various other means, including workshops, walking tours and in-person conversations.
Those, they say, have indicated that residents want more play and performance spaces, market spaces and outdoor dining experiences along Main Street, as well as other amenities included in the newly-released concepts.
“Our vision for Main Street is about creating a walkable destination that brings people together, whether they connect over dinner and drinks, meet up for a concert, or go for a family outing,” Mendenhall said, in a statement. “This will further the success we’ve seen in Downtown Salt Lake City and set us up for strong long-term economic health.”
In addition to the online survey, city representatives will also set up an in-person survey response area on Main Street from noon to 8 p.m. on Friday and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday. The feedback collected from the survey will help the city determine what any final project may look like.
A final concept is expected to be unveiled by the end of the year before the project moves forward.