Salt Lake officials are moving quickly to lay groundwork for a new Jazz arena, but some local architects and downtown business owners are urging them to ease up.
Thursday the city's Redevelopment Agency approved selection of an architect to draft plans for an arena plaza, parking facilities and other arena projects after receiving proposals on Monday.Fowler, Ferguson, Kingston and Ruben architects will design the grounds surrounding the arena. The firm also was hired by Jazz owner Larry Miller to design the actual arena, for which Miller hopes to break ground this summer.
Two sites - a northern site on a block bordered by South Temple, Third and Fourth West and about 250 South streets and a southern site bounded by West Temple, Third and Second South and Second West streets - are being considered for the arena.
The decision to choose a designer was made after the RDA, composed of the City Council which serves as the RDA's board, received proposals for the projects from 13 other architectural firms on Monday.
The agency pared the list to four on Tuesday, interviewed them on Wednesday and approved them on Thursday.
Qita Woolley, president of the Salt Lake chapter of the American Institute of Architects objected to the speed of the selection process and urged the council to take more time in selecting a designer.
"The worst-case scenario is that you're going so quickly that you don't choose a consultant you really want," she said.
John Pace of the architectural firm Babcock Pace & Associates echoed Woolley's concerns, saying, "I think that perhaps the tight time frame could be stretched out a little bit."
But RDA Chairwoman Florence Bittner defended the RDA's rapid progress, saying quick selection of a designer was necessary because Miller wants to be in a new, larger arena by 1991.
"We are able to keep the arena in the city precisely because we are moving so fast," she told Woolley.
RDA officials, in consultation with Miller, hope to choose a site for the arena at an April 6 meeting so Miller can break ground on the project this summer.
Some business owners also cried foul over the RDA's progress on the arena. An owner of a business on the southern arena site asked RDA Director Michael Chitwood what would happen if his block was chosen as an arena site.
Chitwood told him his business could be condemned, forcing the owner out in 60 days, although the owner would be compensated for his properties at the higher of two appraised values.
Another businessman who owns a business on the southern site complained 60 days is not long enough - if his business is condemned - to move his inventory and other facilities from the site.