Salt Lake City officials and leaders behind implementing the Regional-/Urban Design Assistance Team study share a common optimism for the importance and success of the redevelopment plan.
But at a joint retreat in the mountains Wednesday between the City Council, the R/UDAT Steering Committee and others, the controversy and difficulty associated with implementing some of the study's 80 recommendations surfaced.Council members expressed a "consensus of appreciation" for the report, written in June following a 4-day visit by a planning team that studied the city's ailing downtown business district.
Members of the steering committee, made up of Salt Lake business people, architects and other officials, praised the council, which will serve as the "key for implementation" of the study, for its interest in the plan.
But city and steering committee officials acknowledge there would be problems implementing the study.
"If those knotty problems exist, and many do, they are going to have to be addressed," said John Pace, a Salt Lake architect and chairman of the R/UDAT Steering Committee.
Salt Lake City was the 99th city to be visited by a R/UDAT team, which studied the city June 2-6. The team was composed of city planners, architects, transportation experts and others.
The team concluded Salt Lake City's downtown was "stagnant" and said a coalition of business, church and city interests should unify to plan for a revitalized future for the downtown area.
The R/UDAT team made more than 80 recommendations, including focusing growth along Main and State Streets, building a judicial/governmental center and a new Salt Palace complex and developing a light-rail system.
The steering committee met Wednesday to brief the council on progress toward implementing recommendations made in the study. The council, for example, may play a role in implementing suggestions calling for legislative action on zoning matters.
"The ultimate way R/UDAT will be fulfilled is by adoption of plans by the city," said City Planning Commission Chairman Tom Ellison.
But Councilwoman Florence Bittner told the steering committee she had "real concerns about expectations" held by R/UDAT backers expecting the city to fall in line to pass zoning laws that meet R/UDAT recommendations.
The council backs the R/UDAT plan, she said. However, the city can't prohibit developers who meet building codes from building simply because they don't meet R/UDAT objectives, Bittner said.
"What we may have to do with this plan is back off a little," she said.
Councilman Willie Stoler told the council the plan's recommendation's, which include changing the city's zoning laws, might discourage businesses in Salt Lake City.
R/UDAT team members hailed the study as a means of revitalizing downtown and attracting new businesses to the city. But Stoler said, "I worry about scaring the developers off."