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FOX 13 News 360: The future of downtown Salt Lake City

Posted at 10:39 PM, Jul 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-26 00:39:49-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake City is booming — consistently ranking at the top of lists on best places to live and work.

“We’re really not missing a lot," said Karen Bow with Visit Salt Lake. "Salt Lake is one of the few destinations our size with a professional symphony, a professional opera, a professional ballet.”

Bow promotes Utah’s capital city to the rest of the world, saying Salt Lake is a modern mountain hub of the west.

With a massive new convention center hotel on the way and a vast array of residential and commercial construction projects popping up, the city is changing and evolving.

But is it for the better?

FOX 13's Kelly Chapman spent an afternoon in Salt Lake asking residents and business owners what it would take to build a better city. The answers were varied.

Shamus Funk said he would like more things for kids to do, Lara Miller wants more parks and gathering places to connect with locals, and Jordan Hollman would like a stronger cultural scene.

"It’s easy to say, way harder to implement, but a more booming arts scene and not just, like, fine arts," Hollman said.

Nick Norris, the planning director for Salt Lake City, says along with affordable housing, the city needs a green loop — meaning parks along the edges of downtown where there is a lot of density, but open space is hard to find.

And while city officials are taking on big issues, some local small business owners feel like they have been left out of the planning.

Ken Sanders Rare Books is a unique shop that calls Salt Lake home, but they feel like they are getting pushed out.

“You look out the front door of my bookstore and you can see six cranes of buildings going up. Ten stories, 20 stories, 31 stories across the street... and then we’re next,” the store's owner Ken Sanders said.

Sanders has displayed his collection of books and art in the same building for the past 20 years and says a corporate investor plans to tear down the building to replace it with a high-rise, leaving him with no place to go with location options shrinking and rents skyrocketing.

Matt Caputo, the owner of Caputo's Deli, a well-known delicatessen on Salt Lake’s west side, would like to see more attention and detail to the city's architecture and laws that will allow restaurants and bars to purchase alcohol at wholesale prices to usher in more eating establishments.

Caputo brings up an additional point, which he says not only needs the immediate attention of lawmakers but every single Utahn.

"One thing to make our city a better city is to really get serious about clean air," he said.

Watch the video above for more on this in-depth 360 report.