I've waited for a little bit to comment on this, although I did mention the general idea a while back, when I was talking about Denver's arts/cultural superiority.
So, now that I've had time to stew, and have been otherwise engaged anyway, here is what I think of The Church's plan for the new downtown:
We've all seen the lovely renderings....
Okay, not so much "yawn" as, they GOT IT WRONG.
What's wrong with this picture? go ahead, think on it, I'll wait right here...
Here's a hint: at the Big Unveiling, the Church's spokesperson stated that "we are excited to reintroduce the 24/7 life back into downtown Salt Lake City." Look at the renderings again. Get it yet?
1. Who are they trying to attract to the downtown area?
2. What do they expect these people to DO down there?
First off - we're not talking about a 24/7 lifestyle for the downtown area here. More like 24/6. Or more like 16/6.
THERE'S NOTHING TO DO!!
And if you happen to find something to do, you better make sure it fits with the "free-speech" policies that now exist on "The Plaza" because those are the same rules that now will apply over the few-block property. Restaurants/shops won't be open on Sunday either, if they're on the property.
Great, there's shopping. Tell me, pray, what will be THERE that isn't already closer to MY HOUSE? Why would I go THERE to shop at Nordstrom or whatever? Oh, right, there's still Utah Wollen Mills. Great.
There's a TON of mall space, sit space, chill space, personal reflection space. But there's NO ENTERTAINMENT. How many Sbarro's and Chick-Fil-A's can you fit in a space this big?
Just a little hint - if you want to attract a "24/7" lifestyle, you need to have bonafide entertainment. Theater, concert music, small venue music, restaurants and BARS where people can hear music they care about, and generally BE ENTERTAINED. One of my biggest pet peeves about this place is that there are too few places where one can go to hear good music with a good meal. There is support - every time the GAM foundation holds a concert, it is virtually sold out, and there is great support for the Salt Lake City Jazz festival, so much so, that they are attracting some pretty big names to it every summer.
We have two EXCELLENT big bands here in Salt Lake that only get to play two or three times a year, because they don't get asked to play anywhere else.
Okay, so Jazz isn't your thing.
But that goes for other kinds of music too. The Venue opened in the space that was "almost" occupied by the House Of Blues. They attract good acts as well, if that's your thing. But that's about it for downtown, besides two or three other smaller venues for music. But wouldn't it be nice to have some GOOD dining with music, of any type? Wouldn't it be nice to have a good club scene going on downtown? The Port O Call is getting tired. How bout a national-level comedy club? Oh, right, we don't laugh here.
People don't open clubs there, because they are no sooner open (or licences applied for) than they are regulated out of business. We need a new Zephyr Club, while we're at it.
We need an Arts district. We need more galleries, we need more places where good art is displayed. And I'm not talking about paintings of Moroni. They have their place, and that will certainly be well-represented here, make no mistake.
We need to have these things as a part of our culture and society.
What we don't need is another stucco-and-stone clad behemoth sitting downtown, which will certainly rot over time. The stunning lack of architectural creativity in this state is astonishing and baffling. (should we go with a stucco color more to the orange, or to the tan?) Gimme a break. If they are trying to attract the younger urbanite population to live downtown, they should have something for them to do. Same goes for the older-ish folks, just barely having kicked the kids out, looking for a less-complicated lifestyle, closer-in to things, fewer headaches with property maintenance, finally a more sophisticated lifestyle, etc.
Do they think these people are just going to be okay with having nothing to do on Sunday afternoon? Or after the movie on Saturday night for that matter?
I'm just sayin.
That vacuous sucking sound you hear is a vacuous sucking sound.