Salt Lake City

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Erin Mendenhall | (801) 535-7704

Salt Lake City shares vision and implementation plan for west-downtown transit-oriented hub of art, community wellness, and economic growth

April 16, 2024

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Document’s premiere at RDA Board meeting gives way to future discussion and adoption 

The Redevelopment Agency of Salt Lake City (RDA) announced today the publishing of the Rio Grande District Vision & Implementation Plan (Plan), created in partnership with global architecture and design firm Perkins&Will. The document is intended to serve as a redevelopment road map for approximately 11 acres of RDA-owned property located just west of Salt Lake City’s Downtown and flanked by the State’s premier multimodal transit hub and the iconic historic Rio Grande Depot.   

Recognized as a key opportunity to establish a model of transit-oriented development for Salt Lake City and the State of Utah, the six-chapter Plan recommends an urban-scale, walkable community that leverages developers and local organizations to create a programmed and activated district for art, community health and wellness, and organic economic growth. To achieve this, a calibrated mix of land uses are envisioned, including residential with retail and maker’s spaces on the ground levels, a new hotel, and space for nonprofit operations.   

“This extensive document has truly captured the collective vision for the Rio Grande District and will serve as the strategic launchpad for its redevelopment,” said Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall. “Thematically, the Plan thoughtfully addresses the neighborhood’s past, present, and future. Technically, it identifies and explores functional designs for spaces and buildings that will advance creativity, community wellness, economic growth, and opportunities for all.” 

New developments in the Rio Grande District will support Mayor Mendenhall’s “Tech Lake City” initiative with incubator, laboratory, and office spaces for the City’s growing life sciences industry. The Rio Grande District will also activate and support the “Green Loop,” the City’s proposed 5.5-mile urban trail and linear park connecting multiple downtown neighborhoods that is planned to run through the site along 500 West.  

Throughout the Plan’s creation, ongoing community engagement revealed common themes and observations critical to the users and neighbors of the Rio Grande District. From those, 11 “Design Moves”—ranging from tangible to programmatic to environmental to social—form a foundation for the Plan’s design standards and guidelines, ensuring that future development activities will align with the vision for the neighborhood.   

“The Rio Grande District will be an anchoring gateway moment in Downtown Salt Lake City. The Plan proposes a rich fabric of urban life that blends history, art, and culture while promoting diverse businesses, and fostering a cohesive community where people of all ages and incomes thrive,” said Geeti Silwal, Principal and Urban Design Practice Leader for Perkins&Will. “Designed as a low-carbon community, it leverages its proximity to a variety of transportation choices and provides a healthy walkable environment. Serving as a bridge between downtown and west of downtown neighborhoods, the Rio Grande District will be a place of purposeful inclusive vibrancy. It will provide a nurturing environment for resident artists and non-profit organizations that give this district its distinct identity, and further promote the arts, culture, and entrepreneurial spirit of the place.”

To accommodate the first phase of development, the RDA will lay the critical groundwork with upgraded utilities to support higher density at the site, new mid-block street connections to break up the large blocks and create seamless connections to the neighborhood’s rich transit amenities, and key public spaces that will serve as the heart of the Rio Grande District. Public spaces include the reconstruction of 300 South into a people-first street that can be closed and programmed for events and an Arts Campus Alley that will serve as an outdoor venue for local arts, culture, and performance, abutted by maker spaces on the ground floors of adjacent development.   

While physical infrastructure is a key focus, forthcoming Requests for Proposals (RFP) will place the highest value on strengthening social infrastructure and leveraging the RDA’s tools to ensure that the Rio Grande District addresses some of the City’s most pressing needs. Within the development, the RDA will prioritize projects that include: 

Climate-positive design; 

Affordable housing for families and seniors; 

Affordable commercial spaces for locally-owned businesses; and 

The creation of educational and workforce development opportunities.   

It’s always an exciting and unique opportunity when we get to invest in the future of our communities,” commented District 2 Salt Lake City Council Member and RDA Board Chair Alejandro Puy. “I am thrilled to support this transit-oriented development that lays the groundwork for an accessible and bustling area in our city.” 

The RDA Board may consider the adoption of the document in a future meeting.  

For additional details, including a link to download the Rio Grande District Vision & Implementation Plan document, visit 

About the Redevelopment Agency of Salt Lake City (RDA):   

The RDA strengthens neighborhoods and business districts to improve livability, create economic opportunity, and foster authentic, equitable communities. Acting as a catalyst for strategic development projects, the RDA prioritizes redevelopment projects that enhance the City’s housing opportunities, commercial vitality, public spaces, and environmental sustainability. More information at    

About Perkins&Will:   

Perkins&Will, an interdisciplinary, research-based architecture and design firm, was founded in 1935 on the belief that design has the power to transform lives. The firm is committed to creating a better, beautiful, more equitable world through Living Design, an approach that integrates environmental, social, and design considerations to advance ecological health and well-being. Architizer named Perkins&Will the world’s “Best Sustainable Firm” in 2023, and Metropolis named it “Firm of the Year” in 2022 for its industry leadership in advancing climate action and social justice. Fast Company named Perkins&Will one of the World’s Most Innovative Companies in Architecture three times, and in 2021, it added the firm to its list of Brands That Matter—making Perkins&Will the first architecture practice in the world to earn the distinction.  

With an international team of more than 2,500 professionals, Perkins&Will has 30 studios worldwide, providing integrated services in architecture, interior design, branded environments, urban design, and landscape architecture. Partners include Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects; Portland; Nelson\Nygaard; and Pierre-Yves Rochon (PYR). For more information, visit  

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