Magna residents appear united behind a Salt Lake County plan to revitalize the town's business district, making it a tourist attraction where mining artifacts line the streets.
More than 50 people attended a public hearing Tuesday night across the street from a blighted area where businesses once thrived. They came to hear the plan, called "a project of love" by County Commission Chairman Bart Barker. No one stood to oppose it.The plan calls for the county to create a redevelopment district along 27th South between 88th and 92nd West, helping it become a place where valley residents come to be entertained and learn about the history of mining.
Eventually, if the plan's recommendations are followed, mining artifacts will line both sides of the street, old theaters will reopen and concerts will be held in the street. Old buildings, with elaborate facades now hidden behind plywood boards, would be restored.
"This plan will be the salvation of West Main Street," said Chick Paris, chairman of the board of trustees of the Magna Water District.
County officials hope the plan will quickly gain momentum, leading to higher property values in the business district. County leaders said they will reinvest extra taxes generated in the area, making more improvements and attracting more businesses.
Marlene Norcross, head of the Magna Area Council's redevelopment committee, expressed optimism about the plan because area merchants support it. Local business leaders recently organized the Magna Merchants Association, which now boasts 12 members.
"I think this is really picking up momentum," she said. "The momentum might carry us a little faster than what we're prepared for."
Magna, an unincorporated area with a population of about 20,000, has declined steadily in recent years as growth in nearby West Valley City lured shoppers away from Magna's business district.
The plan, prepared by the county with the help of consultants, would make the area a tourist attraction rather than try to lure retail customers back.
"We shouldn't try to make it (downtown) a hometown shopping center again," Norcross said.
If county commissioners accept the plan, they would spend $572,000 during the first two years in improvements and loans. The plan would cost about $1.5 million and could take nine years to complete.
The plan's authors warn that improvements will depend on local residents and may not come quickly.
"The plan must be based on and developed from the inherent qualities and resources of the community, not some fictitious or imported formula of ideas," a written report of the plan said. "This has been tried in many communities before and has been, often times, miserably unsuccessful."
Commissioners will decide whether to accept the plan during the first week in May.