(Maybe) Salt Lake City will get more transit oriented development

Salt Lake City owns a patch of land right beside the newly-constructed streetcar line. The mayor wants to sell the land to make way for privately-funded transit oriented development.

So, hooray for TOD!

Except here’s what has to happen for that plan to work out:

An appraisal of the property has yet to be completed, according to a spokesman for the mayor. […]

It cannot be sold until the City Council agrees that it is surplus. Then the council must hold a public hearing, wait six months, and then rezone the land for development. […]

If the council agrees to sell the land, the Becker administration must go through the rigors of an open “request for proposal” process that likely would seek developers to build dense housing and retail space.

On top of that, there’s all sorts of NIMBY resistance to developing this land.

There are a couple of different ideas for what to do with this land, but what I glean from this article is that they’re all years away from happening. If they happen at all; with so many layers of bureaucracy it wouldn’t be surprising if the current vision for this space is scuttled altogether.

I get that building in cities is hard and takes a long time; when a lot of people live close together there are a lot of concerns to deal with.

But here’s what I take away from this: if we’re going to invest so heavily in transit — the street car line in this area wasn’t cheap, after all — we need to make sure that it can actually deliver on its promises of development. It’s not enough to simply throw down miles of light rail track and hope for the best. Ultimately, if our regulations make development nearly impossible then the money we spend on infrastructure will be less of an “investment” and more of a pipe dream.


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