Developers of City Creek Center are hoping visit No. 13 to the Salt Lake City Planning Commission proves lucky for the project's most controversial feature the skybridge.
City Creek Reserve Inc., a development arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, will address the Planning Commission today, requesting planned development approval for the overall site plan and design of City Creek Center including the proposed skybridge over Main Street at approximately 50 South.
The LDS Church's 25-acre, $1.5 billion downtown project has brought developers before the Planning Commission 12 times in the past 16 months. During the most recent of those meetings Jan. 9, the developers requested that commissioners provide them with a final list of questions in hopes that No. 13 would be an end to the process.
"Our desire, for purely economic reasons, is to move this to a decision as quickly as possible," said Alan Sullivan, legal counsel for CCRI.
Planning commissioners, however, still have several concerns about the project, specifically the enclosed skybridge proposed to link the second levels of the otherwise open-air shopping center.
Commissioners' comments during recent meetings indicate there is anything but consensus on the skybridge. Some appear to favor the proposal, others are strongly opposed to it and the rest fit somewhere in between.
"To be perfectly honest, I haven't made up my mind yet," said Mary Woodhead, Planning Commission vice chairwoman. "I'm not absolutely convinced that the skybridge is necessary yet. But I'm not totally opposed to it, either."
When the Planning Commission does make a decision, it will be forwarded as a recommendation to the Salt Lake City Council, which ultimately will decide the skybridge's fate.
Councilman Eric Jergensen said the Planning Commission's recommendation "will factor significantly" into how he votes on the project.
"We're very concerned that circulation in and around that development improve and benefit the entire downtown," Jergensen said.
"If the skybridge improves that circulation, improves the viability of that development and as a result improves and expands the opportunities for landowners and developers around that development, then that may be a good argument in favor of a skybridge."
Woodhead and others on the Planning Commission are concerned that the skybridge will take pedestrian traffic off Main Street and thus hinder existing and future businesses that are not part of City Creek Center.
Another concern is the street-level crosswalk on Main Street, which does not line up with the main entrance to City Creek Center the galleria because of the TRAX station. Planning commissioners and city staff worry that will discourage people from using the crosswalk in favor of taking an escalator up to the skybridge.
Woodhead said a new concern emerged at the Jan. 9 meeting when CCRI presented a five-minute, virtual walking tour of City Creek Center including a trip across the skybridge.
"They've made the bridge really a destination," she said. "It's got benches, it's wide and it looks comfortable."
That further discourages use of the Main Street crosswalk, she said. "(The developers) want to make things as nice, wonderful and profitable as possible, and I respect them for that," Woodhead said. "But we have to think about what's best for downtown."
Renderings of the proposed skybridge show the second-level walkway as enclosed but transparent. Planning Commissioner Tim Chambless said he's "very concerned" that the skybridge not hinder view corridors."This valley is so beautiful," Chambless said. "What makes it beautiful even on a snowy, cold January day is the mountains. We need to be able, whenever we possibly can, to maintain the view corridors for our mountains."
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