Residents, stakeholders share thoughts on downtown SLC 'entertainment district'

Posted at 9:56 PM, May 21, 2024

SALT LAKE CITY — The Smith Entertainment Group has big visions for downtown Salt Lake City now that the NHL is on the way, but in order to achieve the dream entertainment district, residents might have to pay for part of it.

It was a packed night at the Salt Lake City Council chambers as more than 70 people spoke on the subject. Public comment went past 9:30 p.m.

The legislature authorized the council to issue a 0.5 percent sales tax hike to help pay for part of the revitalization zone infrastructure and development.

Plans include remodeling the Delta Center and adding retail, restaurants, and parking around the area. A section of the Salt Palace could be removed to connect the west and east parts of the city, and music halls and art museums are also at risk of moving or being demolished.

READ: Price tag to upgrade Abravanel Hall could top $200 million

"The Utah Arts Alliance just lost their arts space in the South Town Mall for the sake of a hockey practice rink," said R.J. Walker with Alternative Arts and Music Program (AAMP) Utah. "It's likely they'll lose the Utah Arts Hub as well for the sake of hockey. They'll lose that space and that will displace hundreds of artists."

"I know this process is fast, but a fast process does not mean that it is not a deliberate one," said Mike Maughan with the Smith Entertainment Group. "This tax would be the first step. But to be very clear, this process will be in-depth, it will be deliberate, and it will be iterative."

The council has until Sep. 1 to come to an agreement and then the proposal will go before the state revitalization zone committee for approval.

As for now, the city council isn't expected to vote on the revitalization zone and sales tax increase until July 2.