Archive for May 15th, 2008

Look What Happened

It would have been impossible to imagine this twenty-three years ago when first moved to Salt Lake City. At the time most of the city was boarded up and the streets were void of pedestrians. Two downtown shopping malls, one across the street from the other, struggled for business.

I lived downtown, two blocks from the abandoned Union Station in a rented condo. When I moved from the condo in 1997 it was on the market for $16,000.

For nearly a decade the city struggled with the idea of light-rail. Meeting after meeting, public outcry against the project claimed that people in the “west” would never give up their cars. Nay-sayers didn’t want to fund transportation for the “poor”. Having won the 2002 Winter Olympic bid, UTA (Utah Transit Authority) sought FTA (Federal Transit Administration) funds to build the first light-rail line – a 15 mile line that stretched from downtown Salt Lake to the southern suburb of Sandy. By the end of 1999, the two-year construction project was complete.

Less than three years later, a second line was built that traveled between downtown and the University of Utah. The former Union Station became the downtown terminus, and by 2002, it was the center of a new downtown development known as the Gateway. With 105 shops, a new planetarium, apartments and condos, it anchored a new downtown but led to the further demise of the existing shopping malls just three blocks away.

It was decided to raze what was left of the two shopping malls, as well as a 12-story office tower and recreate a 20 acre mixed-use development spanning three city blocks. The central feature of the new downtown center named City Creek Center, is in fact, a re-exposed City Creek which for decades had been routed under the city. The project will be complete by 2012 and will comprise retail, office and residential space anchored by Nordstrom, Macy’s and as a grocery store.

The light-rail lines which were said to be a waste of money now carry over 43,000 passengers weekly. To further reduce congestion, a heavy-rail line line running 38 miles through the northern suburbs and connecting Ogden opened this year.

The 600 square foot condo I rented, equidistant to both of these projects and two blocks from the rail line is now valued at $91,400.

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Here’s some refreshing news from the Columbus Dispatch.

A 2006 study by Ohio State University planning students found half-empty lots outside most developments, including some Polaris-area stores at noon on the day after Thanksgiving.

The proposal would lower the number of required parking spaces for all commercial developments by 25 percent.

Read the full article here.

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