Over the last few years, we have seen Riverton’s commercial development grow by over 1 million square feet, along with sales tax revenue almost doubling. Much of this growth has taken place on the west side of our city. We have seen exciting projects like Mountain View Village Phase I completed, with Phase II well underway. Costco is under construction and many other exciting commercial and retail opportunities will be announced in the near future. As exciting as these opportunities are, I have always been a proponent of creating equitable opportunities for our historic downtown area on the east side of Riverton near Redwood Road and Riverton City Park.
In 2018, I sat down with the City Council to create an official strategic priorities list which included Priority #3 – “Create a revitalized, pedestrian-friendly downtown destination.” In support of this priority, we have taken many important steps that could enhance the downtown area.
First, multiple studies have been performed from various professional and student-led organizations. These groups were tasked with creating unique land use designs that could improve the vibrancy of the downtown area, keeping in mind its distinct heritage. These plans have been shared with our planning commission and resident volunteer groups. The City Council plans to share them with the public to receive feedback.
Second, there often needs to be financial incentives offered to prospective developers for large scale projects like the redevelopment of a downtown. Looking at different tools available to our city, the council recently approved the creation of a Community Reinvestment Area (CRA). This option permits cities to designate specific areas that could use additional investment, and work with property taxing entities to share the increased property tax revenue as a result of new development. This newfound “tax increment” can be used to encourage specific development that is desirable to the community.
Third, the city organized a market study for the Community Reinvestment Area to analyze the downtown’s potential uses, its strengths and weaknesses, as well as the viability of commercial and retail markets. I’ve heard from many of you about the desire of having additional restaurants and office space in this area and am working with the private development community to push for this type of use.
Fourth, $150,000 was approved in the current FY 21-22 RDA budget for downtown signage and beautification projects. These monies in the RDA come from tax increment. I’ve asked staff and our Historic Preservation Commission to conceptualize streetscape, monument signage, trails and lighting concepts that would really distinguish this area of the city. The city will also be putting $200,000 toward improvements to the Sandra N. Lloyd Community Center this year.
Fifth, we are working with Salt Lake County on potential redesigns of the club house at Riverbend Golf Course and development of their adjoining property. The ultimate vision is to create a destination that can be used for golf tournaments, weddings and other events.
With your help and the support of the City Council, I believe we can substantially improve the downtown area, inviting uses that our residents will enjoy for decades to come; all while maintaining a semblance of the historic nature of this oldest part of our city.