Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Salt Lake City: where parking lots are the size of city blocks

SLC: where parking lots get corporate sponsorship
I thought it might be somewhat enlightening to discuss the city center today. First, the heart of downtown SLC could be considered as being from North Temple to 100 S and from 200 W to State Street. While the blocks between State Street and West Temple have been scrubbed and are now built up (via City Creek; see below), west of there things quickly take a turn for the worse. In particular, the blocks between West Temple and 300 West (and between South and North Temple) appear to be something out of the 1980s (ie, blight, no pedestrians, no shops, no housing--just pavement). Considering the number of people that could be housed in this area in a few tall apartment buildings, it's odd that the city would focus so much on the benefits of City Creek, while neglecting the poorly-used area immediately to the west.

Here's the general lay of the land:

Note that almost a quarter of the central business district (CBD) is taken up by parking lots. If you're the kind that likes to keep things simple (as I tend to be), the center of SLC can be said to consist of four components: Temple Square, City Creek, the Salt Palace, and the parking blocks (in almost equal proportions). To show how this looks in person, below is the block between West Temple and 200 W, and then the block between 200 and 300 W.


Ah, the beauty of downtown Salt Lake City. It's very weird. If the city wants to rejuvenate downtown, leaving entire blocks bereft of anything at night (and full of idle cars during the day) might not help their cause. This is some of the most prime real estate in Utah, and indeed, in the Intermountain West. So why isn't it being put to more efficient use?


  1. I have had this exact thought before. What a complete waste of space! Either build an upright parking structure or dig one underneath and build a park or buildings on top. One of the best ways to get people using public transport is to make parking harder to find and more expensive. Anyway. You should run for city council.

  2. Ha, yeah, making it harder to drive would go a lot further (to clean up the air, etc) than making bus passes cheaper, I'm afraid. Great thought. The fact that the owners of the property wouldn't be able to make much more money off of a large building is weird to me. Perhaps the city gives them some incentive to keep it parking. Thanks for the encouragement!