State court administrators and Salt Lake officials are negotiating plans to locate several court facilities in the city's southern downtown, a concept embraced by city planners and the R/UDAT study.
The plans were unveiled Monday at Mayor Palmer DePaulis' newly renamed "Capital City Committee," a group of businessmen gathered to help direct downtown revitalization efforts. The group used to meet as the Executive Downtown Committee.The complex could get under way with a new juvenile court complex near Fourth South and Main streets when the state Judicial Council asks the Legislature in January to fund the facility, state Court Administrator William Vickrey said.
The Court of Appeals, court administrative offices and the Supreme Court could follow on the heels of the juvenile court and be "co-located" on a single block in the downtown, Vickrey said.
The Regional/Urban Design Assistance Team, a group of urban planners that studied the downtown in June, envisioned a southern downtown "anchor" of governmental and judicial offices in a central area.
And DePaulis, echoing the call for a downtown buoy, said convincing the state to build when the downtown real estate market is "soft" is crucial to maintaining redevelopment momentum.
"We're trying to build momentum, that's the most important thing in my mind," DePaulis said Tuesday.
The state, not a slave to real estate markets and office-vacancy rates, is in a better position to build downtown than other, private interests, he said.
DePaulis said R/UDAT and city planners' call for the creation of a judicial-governmental center in the southern downtown to lure people from the more popular northern business district is crucial.
The judicial complex, together with existing governmental facilities and a proposed public commons would attract some of the 4 million annual visitors at Temple Square, he added.
"If the courts would be persuaded to center their building in the southern end, then we would have a permanent anchor that would help balance the draw from the north end," he said.
"Their (the city's) objective of revitalizing the downtown area and creating a judicial corridor is not inconsistent with the needs of the courts in the long run," Vickrey said.
"Co-locating' court facilities in a central downtown area would make court administration more efficient, Vickrey said. "Many of the unique aspects of a court can be shared by other courts."
A central law library, court administrative offices, security needs and other services could be more efficiently used if they were all located in one area, he said.
The court administrative offices found four of 10 sites proposed by the city would suit their needs, Vickrey said. The two most likely venues are on Block 39 - bounded by West Temple, Main, Fourth South and Fifth South - and Block 40 - bounded by Main, State, Fourth South and Fifth South, he said. With City Hall and other government quarters already downtown and the state considering building a downtown office for the Department of Economic Security, the judicial-governmental center may well be on its way, DePaulis said.
The mayor credits a number of "tools" belonging to the city as being useful for attracting development. A newly created parking authority permitting the city to more easily build parking structures and the city's redevelopment "energy" have caught developer's attention he said.