SALT LAKE CITY

Redevelopment plans in Salt Lake City creates concerns for Japantown

May 25, 2024, 7:00 AM

The Salt Lake Buddhist Temple is pictured in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, May 8, 2024. Smith Entert...

The Salt Lake Buddhist Temple is pictured in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, May 8, 2024. Smith Entertainment Group, Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County envision streets within the vicinity of the Delta Center and the City Creek Center filled with businesses and housing units. The Salt Lake Buddhist Temple and the Japanese Church of Christ will not be impacted by any of the plans. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

(Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — A group of young Japanese Americans want to save what’s left of ‘Japantown’ in Salt Lake City. The area is east of the Delta Center and surrounded by the Salt Palace. These areas have been under the redistricting spotlight since Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith announced he wanted to bring the National Hockey League to Utah.

And so far, the area is not currently part of the overall redevelopment plans of the Smith Entertainment Group.

Construction in the 1960s for the Salt Palace dramatically reduced Japantown. Liz Ward with the SLC Next Gen JA group said they want a seat at the table where redevelopment plans are discussed. 

“We just really want to encourage SEG and state and local governments to not repeat those past mistakes and really preserve [and] revitalize Japantown for the future,” said Ward.

Ward said that the Japanese Church of Christ and the Salt Lake Buddhist Temple need to be preserved, as they are all that remains of Japantown. 

We want to make sure we can maintain our church services, hold funerals, hold the festivals that the whole community enjoys and really activate and sustain Japantown for the future.”

Government officials told SLC Next Gen JA they won’t use eminent domain to take the land. But the group said they have been startled by how quickly events have progressed on SEG’s redevelopment plans.

The group said they have been optimistic following discussions with SEG. And, they hope to be a part of discussions about future plans. Supporters held a town hall meeting this week to discuss preserving Japantown and organizing next steps.

Interested parties may submit comments on their website.

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Redevelopment plans in Salt Lake City creates concerns for Japantown