First public hearing on controversial ‘revitalization’ plan for downtown Salt Lake City

May 21, 2024, 10:13 PM | Updated: 10:35 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Tuesday was a late night for Salt Lake City council members as the first public debate over the revitalization plan for downtown took place.

The comment period didn’t start until close to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Salt Lake City and County Building. 70 people signed up to speak, either in person or virtually.

The major issue at hand has to do with a .05% sales tax increase that would have to be made to help pay for the 100 acres 10 block sports and entertainment district that is the result of the NHL coming to Utah.

The very first speaker was Mike Maughan, an executive with Smith Entertainment Group, sometimes called SEG, that is behind the project.

“This is about the opportunity to reimagine and revitalize our downtown community,” Maughan said to a full house inside the council chambers. “It must be sports, entertainment, culture and community. The Delta Center the Utah Jazz and NHL Hockey are expected to have over a $600,000,000 impact to Salt lake City every single year.”

And Maughan says they are all about keeping Abravanel Hall if that’s what the Salt Lake County Council decides. “At Smith Entertainment Group we feel strongly that a symphony hall stays on site. They feel strongly that it should stay on-site, and we continue to have that.”

Lead architect of Abravanel Hall says demolition plans are motivated by disposable mentality

He says SEG will invest over three billion dollars of private capital into the project.

Those who spoke varied in their comments. Some said they believed this would only hurt Salt Lake, while others said it was the way of the future to keep the economy strong.

“People are failing to see a strong downtown not only benefits a city but an entire region,” Nathan, a small business owner, said.

“The Utah Arts Alliance just lost its arts space in Southtown Mall for the sake of a hockey rink. It’s likely they’ll lose the Utah arts hub as well for the sake of hockey,” RJ Walker representing the arts community said.

“Our data shows that sports, arts, entertainment, and conventions are the major drivers in downtown communities,” a representative with the Downtown Alliance said.

At 10 p.m. Tuesday, the meeting is ongoing. Public comments ended at approximately 10:30 p.m. and the council took a break with more left on the agenda.

The final vote will take place on July 2 during the final public hearing.

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First public hearing on controversial ‘revitalization’ plan for downtown Salt Lake City