What became Downtown Rising began as a series of quiet conversations between key members of the downtown community. The idea was to create a collaborative process that would help guide downtown to the next level of advancement by rekindling the kind of forward-thinking spirit that made the Second Century Plan from the early 1960s a legendary accomplishment in the city's history.
The Salt Lake Chamber and Downtown Alliance took up the charge and formally launched Downtown Rising in May 2006 as a business-led collaborative effort to create a bold and exciting long-range vision for downtown Salt Lake City. The Downtown Rising participants would create, communicate and cultivate a unified vision, provide regional context between the city core and surrounding suburbs and exurbs, ensure everyone is working towards the same goal and assist with construction mitigation.
While purposely led by the business community, the Downtown Rising process has involved a broad crosssection of the community through a variety of methods.
A snapshot of downtown
The process began with a high-profile kickoff event in May 2006. Invitations were sent to business and community leaders that included a camera and instructions to capture those elements that help create a vibrant downtown. Hundreds of photos were submitted to Downtown Rising; people included everything from the very small (curbs and gutters) to the very large (plazas and buildings). Some people even sent in images from cities in other states and countries.
Conveners and Cabinet
A group of Conveners, comprised of prominent leaders from Salt Lake City's business community, were called upon to lead the Downtown Rising effort. Hands-on policy and technical advice was provided by the Cabinet, which consists of working professionals who are knowledgeable about regional and city issues. Each group met half a dozen times, sometimes separately and sometimes jointly, to hear reports on various aspects of the effort and provide counsel from their diverse perspectives.
Design Workshop Internship Charrette
Design Workshop, an urban planning and landscape architecture company with an office in Salt Lake City, focused their 2006 student internship program - an intensive 10-day design exploration - on Downtown Rising. This visioning charrette brought together 15 of the nation's top students in urban design, planning, landscape architecture, real estate, business and environmental planning to formulate strategies, which were then presented to members of Downtown Rising's Cabinet and Conveners.
In August 2006, Downtown Rising reached out to citizens statewide to generate feedback to preliminary ideas to help define the vision for downtown. A 32-page newspaper insert reached more than 250,000 Utahns. Readers responded to the draft vision by mailing in thoughts or commenting via the Downtown Rising website.
Members of the Downtown Rising team made hundreds of presentations to various groups. "Visual preference" surveys were conducted in key locations around the city, allowing 300 residents to react to images of what makes an ideal downtown. More than 150 attendees at workshops for members of the public and downtown businesses used maps and paper models to respond to the draft vision and brainstorm changes.
The public involvement process found there was a high level of support for a healthy downtown and for a visioning process to keep it that way -- 85 percent of those who replied to the newspaper questionnaire and online survey said they supported the draft vision and its ideas.
Dozens of technical experts and advisors were organized in Research Teams to provide specific support in key areas, which included World City, Education, Green City, Transportation, Hospitality, Arts and Culture, Main Street, Business-Friendly, and Urban Living. These teams probed, analyzed and made recommendations in the form of reports to the Conveners and Cabinet members.
University of Utah, College of Architecture + Planning
The University of Utah College of Architecture and Planning sponsored a seven-week, architecture studio for the Downtown Rising effort. This concentrated process combined the work of five volunteer professional mentors from the American Institute of Architects, an urban design professor and 10 graduate students to analyze what was developed as part of the Downtown Rising process and assist with urban planning elements, the framework plan, as well as renderings to be used in the final vision. Several of the students' concepts are included in this vision document.
In addition to the business, technical and community leaders, several entities joined Downtown Rising in a formal partnership to provide professional support:
Salt Lake City Corporation
As a full and enthusiastic partner in Downtown Rising, Salt Lake City Corporation has provided technical assistance, resources and staff support. Many city staff members have served on the Cabinet or as Technical Advisors. The City has used the Downtown Rising process as one of the outreach components for the update of the Downtown Master Plan. In addition, all of the technical work and public comment from Downtown Rising will be archived within the Salt Lake City Planning Department.
Advisors. The City has used the Downtown Rising process as one of the outreach components for the update of the Downtown Master Plan. In addition, all of the technical work and public comment from Downtown Rising will be archived within the Salt Lake City Planning Department.
American Institute of Architects
The Utah Chapter of the AIA selected Downtown Rising as their community service program for the AIA's 150th anniversary. As a result, Downtown Rising will be among other community visions as part of the BLUEPRINT FOR AMERICA - a nationwide community service program sponsored by AIA to create a vision for America's communities. Members of AIA have served on the Downtown Rising Cabinet and have provided technical assistance. This partnership is in keeping with AIA's significant contributions to the original Second Century Plan, which included thousands of volunteer hours.
Envision Utah provided technical support for the Downtown Rising process and vision. Envision Utah led many Downtown Rising meetings and was represented at the Convener and Technical Advisor levels. In addition, Envision Utah conducted community visioning workshops and visual preference surveys, as well as provided urban planning support throughout the process.
"With good will and talented people, anything is possible."
Louis Zunguze, Salt Lake City Community Development Director