By Jasen Lee, Deseret News
Civic leaders are considering an ambitious plan to fill in a gap between two downtown entertainment areas with the redevelopment of a venerable old Salt Lake City block.
Mayor Ralph Becker Tuesday presented a proposal to revamp Regent Street in an effort to make it the mid-block connector between City Creek and the Gallivan Center and transform it into a place where people “gather, discover and connect.”
Becker and other city administrators unveiled the new schematic design plans for the Regent Street block located on the east side of the new Eccles Theater, between 100 South and 200 South.
The project would include retail and dining establishments, a public plaza, along with custom landscape architecture throughout the common areas. While the street would still be accessed by motor vehicle traffic, the area would also be accessible to pedestrians and could be converted to pedestrian-only access for events such as concerts, Becker explained.
“Since I took office, a primary object is to make downtown a gathering place for the region — and have it be a true welcoming environment for people seeking all kinds of activities that you can really only find in the downtown area,” he said. “We see this as part of what we are doing to make this the ‘cultural core’ of the region.”
While the final price tag of the proposed project is yet to be determined, Becker estimated that it will cost at least $10 million to complete. Ideally, the project would be finished by mid- to late 2016, concurrent with the anticipated opening of the new downtown “Broadway-style” theater.
Ground was broken on the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Theater last June. The new 2,500-seat facility, located at 131 S. Main, is expected to have its first performances next summer.
The project will be overseen by the Redevelopment Agency of Salt Lake City, while the design team will include locally-based GSBS Architects, STRUCK agency and VODA Landscape and Planning.
The creative teams mined Regent Street’s rich history that includes playing host to the city’s infamous “red light district” of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as well as providing a home to both the Deseret News and the Salt Lake Tribune for decades, he noted.
The redevelopment project is aimed at attracting more people into downtown and generating a distinctive experience that can’t happen anywhere else, said STRUCK agency’s Brent Watts, who is part of the creative design team for the Regent Street project.
“We want to create a ‘branded’ experience,” he said, adding that besides gathering and dining, the corridor will include local artists and local shops.
“We want sizeable, small-scale retail shops on the street,” Watts said. “That’s important.”
He said other cities have developed their own locally “flavored” districts, such as Abbot Kinney in Venice, California, and the Pearl District in Portland, Oregon. He said his team wants to create the same kind of destination area in Salt Lake City.
“It’s been crafted as an experience that you would want to have on the street,” he said. “It’s uniquely Salt Lake.”