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Murray's vision: If you build it they will come

Published: Saturday, May 25 2013 4:55 p.m. MDT

A sign on a business in Murray indicates it is part of the city's historic section, Friday, May 24, 2013.

Ravell Call, Deseret News

MURRAY — Civic leaders in one of the Salt Lake Valley’s most prominent suburban locales are hoping to create a promising future for their city through transit-oriented development.

Call it the rail version of Murray's own field of dreams as the city hopes the rail line will help transform the city into a place of economic vitality.

The Murray City Center District is envisioned as a mixed-use development that would create a new “downtown” for the city. The district is about 97 acres of properties located between 4800 South Street to the north, State Street to the east, Little Cottonwood Creek and Vine Street to the south and the existing light- and commuter-rail lines to the west.

According to Tim Tingey, Murray's director of administrative and development services, among the main purposes of the district is to foster a strong, viable downtown as a commercial, civic and cultural art center, with its own unique identity by encouraging rehabilitation of existing historic buildings and promoting compatible design for new construction.

“We think there is a lot of opportunity for retail and professional offices in these areas,” Tingey said.

The goal of the city's administrative and development services department is to facilitate redevelopment efforts in designated communities, as well as to administer projects and programs, he said.

The department also aids in economic development, community development and urban renewal. In addition, it works to encourage private and public investment in previously developed areas that are underutilized or blighted.

Tingey said the city is working to secure financing through various sources, including tax increment financing and private developers. The long-term cost of the project would likely run well into the millions of dollars, but no definitive budget has been determined, Tingey said.

Described as a prime transit-oriented development area with its proximity to TRAX and FrontRunner, as well as commuter bus service, Tingey said the project is also being designed to be pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly.

There are already high-density housing units near the Murray North TRAX station, and more units are planned for the future in the district with accessibility to public transit.

Murray is in the process of reviewing a proposed bus-rapid transit line that would travel from the Murray City Center District, just north of the Intermountain Medical Center, to the Murray Central TRAX and FrontRunner stations, and then west to Salt Lake Community College on Redwood Road in Taylorsville.

The project is 4.4 miles long and would include 1.5 miles of exclusive bus lanes. The majority of the exclusive lane would be center-running and located on 4700 South.

The project would also include eight new stations for the bus-rapid transit line. The main goal of the project is to provide a reliable, efficient transit connection between the Murray Central TRAX and FrontRunner stations to the Murray City Center District and Salt Lake Community College, Tingey said.

The Utah Transit Authority estimates the line would be used by approximately 2,200 passengers daily and cost about $33 million to develop. Construction would take about two years, said UTA spokesman Remi Barron.

Meanwhile, in an effort to promote increased population density and mixed-use development in the area, the city is proposing minimum height standards for new construction, Tingey said. Buildings would be required to be at least 40 feet high, or four stories, and would likely include some commercial elements on the lower floors, with residential units on the higher levels.

He said the design plans would bring a new vitality to the city and offer a new way of life for residents.

“Creating a place to live, work and play, eventually,” Tingey said. “We’re excited about it. We think it has great potential.”

Email: jlee@deseretnews.com

Twitter: JasenLee1

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