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The City Journals

Riverton explores possible redevelopment of downtown area

Jul 26, 2017 11:28AM ● By Kelly Cannon

The heart of the study area: the intersection of Redwood Road and 12600 South. (Mariden Williams/City Journals)

By Mariden Williams | [email protected]
At a meeting on June 20, the Riverton City Council discussed the possibility of redeveloping the area along 12600 South—from about 1300 West to about 2200 West—to make it more pedestrian friendly and provide more options for restaurants, retail and recreation.
Previously, the council partnered with Psomas Engineering to conduct a study on the area and to draw up some development concepts. At the council’s June 20 meeting, Psomas engineer Greg Haws guided council members through the results.
Psomas came up with a few different development scenarios, which mostly centered around expanding upon a few potential districts that are already budding within the study area. Many different square-footage allotment maps were tossed around; most of them included substantial space for retail and recreational zones. The city park in particular was discussed as a candidate for further development. Haws seemed optimistic that with a few additions, Riverton could effectively "extend the park all the way to 12600 South, and really make that a recreational district for the city." One proposal was to encourage sit-down restaurants along the park edge, thinking that the location could provide an opportunity for diners to sit out on the patio and enjoy the view.
In addition to the burgeoning recreational district around the city park, the study area may contain the beginnings of a respectable retail district. This could be expanded and encouraged to become a bit more welcoming to pedestrians.
Psomas also addressed the possibility of a transit-oriented development. There has apparently been discussion of some sort of public transit stop—what kind of transit has not been decided—being built just west of the intersection of Redwood Road and 12600 South. If that happens, city officials will need to make some changes to the layout of the streets in the area.
"There’ve been truncated roads that don't go all the way through,” said Haws. “In order  to have a thriving transit-oriented development, you've got to reestablish some of the grid that's been lost."
Making things more accessible to pedestrians is a key feature in every development scenario. The goal of this redevelopment is to draw more vitality into the area, and that's hard to accomplish when people don't feel safe walking around it. Currently the study area is very much designed for car traffic rather than pedestrian use.
"You have a river of cars going through the middle of Riverton," said Haws. "But in a river, when you get off to the sides, there's eddies and places where the water can calm down and pool off.”
The businesses currently situated along the corridor do not provide that desired trickling-off effect. The vast majority of them are auto-centric. There are plenty of car repair shops, emissions testing centers and drive-through restaurants but nowhere to linger.
"If we're going to make this a center where people are going to want to come and gravitate, and spend time and money, something drastic has to change," said Haws.
Riverton City itself has limited control on how things in this area will develop.
"At the end of the day, it is up to the property owners as to whether or not they want to develop their property," said Councilman Trent Staggs. "North of the park may be where the city potentially has the most influence, because we do own property there."
But city leaders did meet with many of those who do own property in the study area, and according to Staggs, the reception was very positive; in fact, some of those property owners actually helped pay for the Psomas study.
"That, to me, means there's a lot of buy-in,” said Staggs. “These property owners, they want to see something happen."