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Second level walkways, pedestrian bridges and fountains-- sound familiar? While the project will no doubt have key signature elements including a retractable glass roof and high-rise condominiums, City Creek is no doubt being built in the model of a typical outdoor-life center. A Gatewayesque development. Taubman specializes in these types of centers that maximize retail dollars in small spaces by offering two levels of retail.
Private Mall Or Public Square?
posted November 30th
Is it a private mall or is it a public square? This was the main topic of debate regarding the new revised City Creek Center plans that were released Thursday evening at an open house in the City and County building. Taubman Partners showed key revisions to the project in a power-point presentation. These revisions included additional condominiums and large courtyards they called Richards Court and Regence Court. Taubman intends these new areas to be fountains surrounded by open-air restaurants. In accommodating Richard's court and additional restaurants, initial plans for a third anchor besides Macy's and Nordstrom where nixed. The new renderings release Thursday night show many bridges and second level walkways on the main promenade on Social Hall Avenue. This second level of retail is essential for the project to attain a "critical mass of retail" as one Taubman representative described.
One of the key elements of the new City Creek Center is the retractable roof. On very hot or very cold days City Creek Management can close the roof and provide heating to the area.
Despite the plans for this project to follow the current fad in retail development, there are key elements of the new design that the crowd seemed very excited about-- mainly the view corridors that Social Hall Avenue Richard's Street and Regence Street will offer. These resurrected streets that existed before the two downtown malls were built, were lined with retail and intersected the two giant blocks so pedestrians could easily access State Street from Main Street and First South from South Temple. Initial City Creek planners Stephen Goldsmith has commented that the reopening of these streets is the most appealing aspect of the project.
However, there is one major difference in the new plans and how historic Salt Lake City once was. All of these streets will now be privately owned by CCRI and Taubman. Usage of these intersecting streets will be limited to the hours that the City Creek Center Management dictates. The decision to make these streets private wasn't clear. One Taubman representative said, "either the Salt Lake City can maintain these streets using your tax-payer dollars or we can using our dollars."
The privatization of the public way was also a major concern of Rocky Anderson. In effect handing over control of a public street to a private entity is what sparked National attention and court battles nearly ten years ago when the L.D.S church purchased the North-end of Main Street from the city to build their gardens and courtyard around Temple Square. However, it is unlikely that the ACLU will get involved in this fight. This land has been privately owned for over thirty years so the ACLU wouldn't have much of a case.
Will the major part of downtown Salt Lake City streets be privately owned and controlled? If so what does this mean? Does it mean that speech be limited and mall police be able to say who comes and who goes? Or will our new downtown be full of public square spirit that is found in other great cities? These questions will no doubt continue to be debated as this project moves forwards and plans are materialized.