With no distinguishable downtown, South Salt Lake has been perceived by many as an extension of Salt Lake City’s Sugar House neighborhood.
“People drive through South Salt Lake every day and don’t know it’s South Salt Lake,” Mayor Cherie Wood said.
The misconception that South Salt Lake and Salt Lake City are one and the same is being corrected by a long-term plan to create a destination city center and urban lifestyle magnet in an area bordered by 2100 South, Interstate 80, Interstate 15 and State Street.
South Salt Lake is seven square miles in size and shares its northern and eastern boundaries with Salt Lake City. It is home to approximately 27,000 residents and about two-thirds of its land is zoned for commercial or light industrial use.
The master plan for South Salt Lake’s downtown includes mixed-use buildings with residences and retail shops, office buildings, restaurants, nightlife, cultural attractions and green space. Changes in recent years to zoning regulations allow high density development in the neighborhood and mandate a 50-foot minimum height for buildings, with no limit on how high they can go.
“Downtown should have tall buildings,” said Sharen Hauri, the city’s urban design director. “The mixed-use developments will increase night time activity and give South Salt Lake a 24/7 downtown.”
Council Member LeAnne Huff, whose district includes part of the new downtown, said residents want walkability in their community.
Development that blends residential, commercial and cultural uses “helps South Salt Lake become a destination place, where people not only live but work and shop,” said Huff, a former member of the city’s Planning Commission.
Murals on the sides of businesses, including breweries and along transit lines, also make the downtown a desirable place to live, she said.
“The artwork that is being done is really enhancing the area,” Huff said.
District 2 Council Member Corey Thomas, whose district also includes part of the area, said a destination downtown could bring new residents to South Salt Lake. Diners, shoppers and others enjoying the amenities who are thinking of moving somewhere could pick the city as their new home, she said.
Easy access to public transportation also is a part of the developing downtown. The Central Pointe TRAX connects to all rail lines. The city’s effort to form a thriving downtown got a boost in 2017 when WinCo built a grocery store at 2200 South and Main Street. It is serving as a catalyst for more development in the area.
“It was huge,” the mayor said. “It was like the first domino that fell.”
Now in the works is South City, a development by Dakota Pacific at the nearby site of the old Granite Mill. Ground was broken last October for the first phase of the project, a six-story, 150,000-square-foot office building. Future phases will bring a 10-story apartment building, a parking garage with 800 stalls, a hotel, stores and more offices to the development.
Breweries also have been locating in South Salt Lake in recent years including Level Crossing Brewing Co., Beehive Distilling,and SaltFire Brewery and Grid City Beer Works. Co-owner Justin Belliveau said “We probably couldn’t find any more visible location given the amount of traffic on 2100 South and 300 West.”
He also cited the support provided by South Salt Lake’s staffers, including Hauri and Alexandra White, community development director, during the application and planning process as a reason to locate in the city.
“All told, the city gets an A+ from our business based on the experience we’ve had building,” said Belliveau, a former chief administrative officer for Salt Lake City’s Redevelopment Agency. Grid City will benefit from other development in the area.
“That whole complexion of the downtown area is going to change,” Belliveau said. “People will realize that South Salt Lake has become a nightlife destination.”
The South Salt Lake Arts Council and Utah Arts Alliance are hosting the third annual Mural Fest in Salt Lake City’s Creative Industries Zone—a safe and bikeable neighborhood in South Salt Lake.
The Creative Industries Zone includes the blocks east and west of West Temple between 2100 and 2500 South. Many creative businesses are taking off in this neighborhood, including breweries, distilleries, art studios, a skateboard shop, a local furniture company, and a creative reuse center, among others. Because of the Mural Fest, there are now 20 murals in the area, with 10 more planned for this year.
Simply put, the murals rejuvenate the area. They connect the people who live and work in the area with their neighborhood. It is an area with many industrial warehouse buildings, which is a perfect backdrop for mural artwork.
The Mural Fest has grown significantly since its inception in 2017. The first year, 23 artists applied. In 2019, there were 67 applications. And this year there were 143 applications.
Artists are selected by a jury based upon several criteria, including excellence, professionalism, relevance, and technical competence. Five of this year’s artists are local, while the other five are national or international, increasing both the diversity of the artists and the artwork.
Many Salt Lake residents haven’t yet discovered these murals, as they just appeared in the last two or three years. If you haven’t discovered them yet, make your way down to the Mural Fest Celebration event!
Additional Reporting by Kelli Case