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Salt Lake City considers redeveloping mural-filled 'Fleet Block'

Posted at 5:20 PM, Jul 19, 2023

SALT LAKE CITY — The fate of downtown Salt Lake City’s “Fleet Block” is in the hands of the city council.

Across the ten-acre block between 300 and 400 West and 800 and 900 South, murals are showcased of local and national people who have been killed by police or died in custody.

A portrait of Taryn Hunt’s brother, Darrien, looks over West 800 South.

“It’s still kind of amazing he still looks this awesome right here,” said Taryn. “He was so beautiful.”

It’s been almost ten years since Saratoga Springs police shot and killed Darrien when they saw him with what looked like samurai sword. He’s one of the many memorialized on Fleet Block, an old city fleet maintenance facility.

Taryn remembers painting her brother’s garden box.

“This is a place that we can gather with other families, with other like-minded people that understand what we’ve been through,” she said.

On Tuesday night, the city council decided it will move forward to a public hearing on a zoning proposal to redevelop the area.

“The end goal is take an environmentally-contaminated and dormant piece of city property that has become an organic and important gathering space and to build on the social movement and importance that has occurred at this site,” said Blake Thomas, director of Salt Lake City Community and Neighborhoods.

Thomas said the new development could include more housing, retail, and restaurants. He added that 50% of the space is proposed to a be a public space "open to all.”

“What we are able to get approved last night was roughly three acres of public-dedicated space that will be green and open to all community members,” he said.

Rae Duckworth with the Black Lives Matter Utah Chapter said the area should stay a community space.

“My heart goes out to [the families] because it’s beautiful to come here and see faces and look, they’re smiling. It’s not sad. It’s beautiful, you know?” said Duckworth.

The Hunt family prefers to go to Fleet Block instead of to Darrien’s gravesite. Taryn said tearing it down would just “re-open the wound.”

“It’s hard that they were taken from us, but this is one of the only things we have besides knowing their body’s in the ground. To help us have a place to come,” she said.