Following their whirlwind six-day study of Salt Lake City's ailing downtown, the Regional/Urban Design Assistance Team hastily produced a 64-page book hailed by some as an urban planner's bible.
The report containes more than 80 recommendations to revitalize what the team dubbed a "stagnant" downtown area.The R/UDAT team - made up of eight experts in architecture, land planning and transportation - recommended that downtown areas and landmarks be developed into an integrated "framework" to ensure a successful future for the area.
"This basic framework can provide a strong sense of direction for future development and, over time, can produce a downtown area that is vibrant, functional and marketable," the report reads.
The city's downtown is firmly anchored on the north by Temple Square and other LDS Church facilities, the team wrote in its report. The city's southern downtown area has no similar anchor to act as a counterbalance, however.
In the southern downtown area, the R/UDAT report calls for a judicial complex and accompanying public plaza to be built to help draw people to the area, which is devoid of the shopping attractions the two uptown malls provide.
Already, the state Court Administrator's Office is contemplating building a judicial complex in southern downtown, beginning with construction of a juvenile courthouse.
Under the R/UDAT scenario, if the courts building is constructed, it will add to "the critical mass" necessary to balance the popular north downtown area with the less-popular southern end of downtown.
R/UDAT also recommends that the north and south poles downtown be connected by a better maintained north/south axis along State and Main streets. This would help refocus activity along these corridors.
"Main Street is the heart of the shopping area," the report reads. "It should be the most pedestrian-oriented street in the city."
The team also identified several natural districts in downtown - both weak and strong - and suggested that all be nurtured into healthier regions.
The Salt Palace is the bulwark of a convention district envisioned by R/UDAT. The district would also include expanded convention facilities, more parking and a new Jazz arena.
To the south of the Salt Palace, R/UDAT envisions an arts and entertainment district to add a spice of diversity to downtown. City officials have already upgraded the street and sidewalks on Pierpont Avenue with an eye toward R/UDAT and the several art galleries in the area.
The plan also calls for the State Street corridor downtown to be developed as an office district. Several office buildings are already there and Broadway Centre Inc. has proposed building another 14-story office building on the corner of Third South and State Street.
The urban planning team also identifies a number of historic districts and landmark sites adjacent to the downtown area that should be preserved and expanded via city ordinances and government incentive programs.
"Use the physical evidence of Utah's unique history to give character, quality and human scale to present-day Salt Lake City," the report recommends.
All the districts are to be linked by a network of pedestrian walkways that are both fun and functional, the report says. R/UDAT backers point to the development of Pierpont Avenue as the first street of this pedestrian-oriented network.
R/UDAT also proposes addressing many of the transportation problems - such as parking and traffic congestion - currently facing the downtown area.
The report urges city officials to develop a comprehensive parking plan to "effectively guide parking development and use within the downtown."
City officials took the first step during a September special session of the Legislature. They successfully lobbied for approval to form a parking authority, enabling the city to build parking terraces viewed as vital for implementation of the R/UDAT plan.
Other transportation problems R/UDAT suggests tackling include improving I-15, which funnels thousands of vehicles into the downtown area hourly. Recommendations include additional high-occupancy lanes on the freeway and improvements to existing interchanges.
But these are only partial solutions.
A light-rail system needs to be built - preferably by the turn of the century - to relieve congestion on I-15, according to R/UDAT's report. City officials have since considered building a central rail station beneath Block 57, in the heart of downtown, as part of that system.
City officials must also examine other short-term ways of improving current transit services, such as expanding downtown "free-fare" zones for Utah Transit Authority buses, the R/UDAT team said.