Officials detail plans to renovate Regent Street in downtown Salt Lake City

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Since breaking ground on the Eccles Theater last June, Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker and a redevelopment agency have been looking to create a new retail and art district running between first and second South.

Plans have been discussed, and construction is about to begin to redevelop a once notorious city block.

Stan Penfold, chair of the redevelopment agency board of directors, spoke about Regent Street’s history.

“Everything from an old Chinese laundry to a place where you could, uh, hire somebody for the evening, and so it’s got a lot of character--and part of our project is to hopefully bring back some of that character,” he said, referencing the fact there were once brothels on Regent Street.

City planners hope to bring back some of the street’s history, just around a different activity.

“Regent Street is going to be a really key part of the activity around the theater, so we are looking at this as very much an arts center, a place to gather, a place for people to be before theater, after theater, or even during the day when there is not theater going on,” Penfold said.

The street also used to be home to the Tribune and Deseret News, so the city plans to incorporate a few newspaper design elements.

“We wanted to take the idea of headline news, and we have a design element that we are calling the press sheet--and it changes colors and patterns and it tells the story of Regent Street,” said Jesse Allen, who is involved with the project.

One of the key components of the $12 million project is connecting City Creek Center and the Gallivan Center while staying open to Main Street.

“We want to make this as walkable and as interconnected as possible,” Allen said.

The plaza won’t have any curbing, but city planners believe this will reduce cars’ speed and increase the walkability of the city.

“Salt Lake City has large city blocks, so the city is trying to emphasize those mid-city block connections, so that the city feels more walkable and pedestrian friendly,” Allen said.

Other concepts for the block include retail space, patio dining, and a place for artists to showcase their work.

“We are going out to the community, and we will be asking for ideas for art installations along the street, and it is going to be a really significant component of what happens here,” Penfold said.

Completion of the project is expected to coincide with the opening of the Eccles Theater at the end of next summer.