Downtown SLC booming, but traffic and parking are the biggest perception problem

Posted at 12:18 PM, Jul 09, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-09 14:18:36-04

SALT LAKE CITY — The downtown area is rebounding, with record-breaking retail sales and a boom in housing.

But if you ask people what keeps them from visiting the core of Utah’s capital city, it’s three things: traffic, parking and how much time you’ll spend getting into downtown. That’s according to a perception survey released Thursday by the Downtown Alliance, a booster group for Salt Lake City’s downtown.

Traffic and parking have historically been the top perception problems for downtown Salt Lake City, but panhandling recently earned the top spot. In the new survey released Thursday, panhandling ranked near the bottom of perception problems.

Overall, downtown has rebounded with unprecedented numbers of conventions and festivals, according to a Downtown Alliance report. Last year, downtown businesses made a collective $800 million in retail sales. About 70,000 people work downtown, the group said in its annual report.

The Downtown Alliance’s annual report showcased new buildings under construction, including office buildings, hotels and high-rises. You can see those developments by clicking here.

Jason Mathis, the director of the Downtown Alliance, said the group wanted to focus on expanding homeless services (homelessness has grown 37% over the past five years), address impact fees and boost the “nightlife economy,” calling for more liquor licenses to be made available to restaurants.

Downtown Salt Lake City is in the midst of an apartment boom, with more people wanting to live in the urban core than ever before. Corey Johnson with Wasatch Properties noted that a number of multi-family housing units were being built, with the demand being fueled by downtown job growth. In his remarks to the Downtown Alliance, Johnson said he worried about too many apartments being built, high rents and predicted a slow-down in 2016.

The LDS Church-owned City Creek Center continues to perform well, said general manager Linda Wardell. A survey by the Downtown Alliance found it was the top draw for shoppers each month across the Wasatch Front. However, Farmington’s Station Park development had drawn a significant number of Davis County shoppers.