Salt Lake City buzz is set to rebound in a big way this summer — and no only due to residents’ social lives strangled by a global pandemic for more than two years.
As traditional summer attractions like the Downtown and Liberty Park Farmers Markets, as well as new attractions like Open Streets on Main, the Small Town of Granary District and the West Side International Market, return to pre- COVID, they are also poised to attract participants from a rapidly urbanizing housing market that is seeing more people living in more parts of the city, who are looking for more things to do.
“One of the things that’s really important to us – and I think a lot of people looking at downtown – is the transition from what we call a ’12 hour city’ to an ’18 hour city “, which means it’s bustling for longer periods of time,” said Jessica Thesing, Urban Affairs Director for the Downtown Alliance. people on the streets, it’s safer because there’s more activity, people just do everyday things and use the city center as the fabric for that activity.”
A first test of the Salt Lake summer scene arrived on May 7 with the relaunch of Small city in a new space at 349 W. 700 South. In 2019 and 2021, Little City consisted of a weekly makeshift beer garden and a micro-retail space built from shipping containers on the shoulder of 400 West. But for 2022 and – potentially – beyond, Little City has teamed up with developer BCG Holdings to transform a ramshackle warehouse adorned with street art near Kilby Court into an urban event space.
“The plan right now, at least right now, is to do fewer events but bigger ones,” said Little City co-founder Michael Yount. “It was always our intention to be somewhere for a few years and reinvent what we do in some way. It gave us that chance without having to suddenly buy 10 more. [shipping] containers.”
The new little town includes space for food trucks, live art performances, yard games like cornhole and, now, a full bar.
“We’ve never done this before – it’s always been beer and seltzer,” Yount said. “Because we’re locked in, we’ll be able to have a drink in the 8,000 square feet.”
BCG spokeswoman Britney Helmers acknowledged the economic pressure to flip a property like the Little City space. But the culture of urban gathering areas is part of the success of neighborhoods like Granary, she said, where idle industrial structures are being redeveloped for housing and retail.
In addition to hosting Little City (next date scheduled for June 25), the space will be available for private events — at least one wedding is already planned, Helmers said — and will complement adjacent BCG residential projects in the buildings. historic Utah Pickle and Hyde and a planned renovation of the old Ed’s Place, from which Little City currently derives its power supply.
“There’s going to be growth, we can’t stop it. But how do you associate growth with being local? How do you associate modernity with courage?” Helmers said. “Starting local takes care of all the infrastructure. Let’s start small, build on what Little City started, then go bigger.”
Bigger and bigger this year is Saturday morning Downtown Farmer’s Market at Pioneer Park, which is returning to full hours and offerings after years of reduced operations due to the COVID pandemic.
“We’ll have the full arts and crafts market, we’ll have our bike valet back, we’ll have the food fairway,” said Alison Einerson, executive director of Urban Food Connections of Utah, which runs the market. “And after a two-year break, we are also having a launch party.
Einerson said organizers are encouraged by the continued support for local producers during the pandemic and anticipate 2022 to be a banner year. She pointed out that the downtown market, which takes place weekly on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., from June 4 to October 22, has a statewide economic impact that supports small farms. independent.
“These farmers come from all over the state and rely on direct-to-consumer sales,” Einerson said. “If they have a place to sell, if they have a reliable source of income, they can stay on that land and not have to sell.”
This year will also see the Liberty Park Market officially taken under the wing of Urban Food Connections of Utah. The smaller, neighborhood-focused event was previously run by volunteers through the local community council, who contacted organizers at the town center market for help during the pandemic.
“As with everything else, when COVID hit, they lost a lot of suppliers,” Einerson said. “They lost a lot of customers.”
Einerson says the Liberty event will be moved to Thursday nights (from Friday) to avoid clashes with Saturday’s downtown farmers’ market. It runs from June 16 to September 29 and more information on both markets can be found at slcfarmersmarket.com.
“The vendor list for this looks really good,” Einerson said. “It’s going to be bigger, it’s going to have more products.”
After years of discussion, a brand new International market will debut at the Utah State Fairpark this year on May 28, with additional markets scheduled approximately every month (except September, when the Utah State Fair is held) until October 29. The market will be held in the evening – all scheduled dates are on Saturdays – and will include culturally diverse food, art, entertainment and an “international” beer garden.
“We have five dates set,” said Nicki Claeys, director of programs and sponsorships at Fairpark. “Eventually the plan is to become a full-time market. We’re excited because it will really represent the west side.”
Claeys said the market was part of a larger effort to make more efficient use of the fairgrounds throughout the year. Recent years have seen the rebuilding and expansion of the Days of ’47 Arena and the addition of a competition-caliber state park near the driver’s license office (located on the fairgrounds), and updates to Fairpark’s master plan are expected in the coming weeks. .
The international market will primarily be hosted in one of the historic barns along the northern temple, with indoor and outdoor entertainment and food trucks available nearby.
A new pedestrian entrance near the Trax Fairpark station was also built for easy access to the grounds. “Public transit will be ideal to get there,” Claeys said. More information is available at slcinternationalmarket.com.
Main Street will get a facelift once again with the return of Open streetsa pilot project that sees the downtown thoroughfare closed to vehicular traffic and transformed into a pedestrian promenade on summer weekends, Memorial Day through Labor Day.
But new this year, Open Streets will include the full Friday-Sunday weekend instead of the Thursday-Saturday schedule of the past two years.
Removing cars from the roadway – from South Temple to 400 South, with the exception of the southbound 300 block near the Moss Courthouse and not affecting through streets – allows businesses to capitalize on the space sidewalks by erecting or extending patios, or providing land for pop-up bodegas and buskers.
“Companies wanted to take advantage of Sunday and the brunch crowd,” said Thesing, of the Downtown Alliance. “We will put money in the hands of artists to show up and use the street as a venue.”
Thesing said Open Streets began as an economic intervention. Downtown Main Street has long struggled to maintain its vibrancy at night, when the mostly office-based skyscrapers in the city center are empty of workers as they step down. But that challenge was exacerbated when even daytime activity plummeted as work receded during the pandemic.
“We’re a 12-hour city,” Thesing said. “When the office buildings closed and people decided not to come to work or not to come to work, the city center was empty.”
Anecdotal and quantified reports suggest that the Open Streets project has been a success, increasing revenue for Main Street businesses, in some cases beyond pre-pandemic levels.
With COVID restrictions increasingly in the rearview mirror, major events returning to Gallivan Center and downtown performance venues, and a pipeline of new apartments and condominiums opening their doors, organizers say 2022 could see a even greater demonstration of the pedestrian potential of the main streets.
In the long term, it’s about closing Main Street to cars permanently, as cities like Denver and New York have successfully done. But for now, Thesing said, Open Streets is an invitation to spend weekends in the heart of Salt Lake City and imagine what the future of downtown might be like.
“The main focus was economic recovery. Reinventing Main Street is part of that, but it’s not a street party. It’s for everyone,” Thesing said. “It’s not just for people who want to go to a bar. It’s for families who want to feel safe downtown and enjoy the outdoors. It’s an outlet for that.”
How, then, will residents know that a “6 p.m.” Salt Lake City has been achieved? “The measure of success is people doing things on the streets,” Thesing said. “I don’t know if there’s a better way to put it.”