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Public invited to comment on downtown Murray guidelines

Nov 02, 2020 02:58PM ● By Shaun Delliskave

New proposed MCCD guidelines call for movable seating and visual interest to public spaces, such as this space in Seattle. (Photo courtesy of Murray City)

By Shaun Delliskave | [email protected]

Murray opened a new phase in transforming the downtown area by presenting draft guidelines for public input. The Murray City Planning Commission conducted a public hearing on Oct. 15 regarding a Land Use Ordinance Text Amendment to the Murray City Center District (MCCD).

Centered around a several block area of State Street between 4800 South and Murray Park, the MCCD has been subject to recent significant changes such as relocating Murray City Hall to 4800 South and the demolition of the historic Mount Vernon School Campus.

Namely, the draft lays out five “shared values” toward future development plans, including authentic, active, inclusive, connected and multi-modal. 

According to the document’s guidelines, “Murray City is pursuing the development of a true, functioning and authentic downtown neighborhood; not a historic replication of another time, or another common open-air mall. Development in the MCCD area should be thoughtful, purposeful, and representative of the true heart of Murray City.”

As for activities, the plan calls for a more walkable community, a socially active place where there are more shops, restaurants, and bars, but also neighborhoods that are “mentally active.”

“This is accomplished through creating open spaces and visual interest in the downtown district, which then stimulates the mind of those who are experiencing new uses and activities,” per the city’s guidelines.

The plans call for inclusive housing that is served by various mass transit options with a focus on pedestrians and cyclists and connect to the city as a whole.

Of the 15 guidelines, walkability was the first guideline in the proposal. Planners intend for the downtown area to be pedestrian-friendly and encourage residents to use mass transit and bicycles. One way they intend to do this is with smaller neighborhood blocks.

“Use block lengths of less than 300 (feet) to encourage short walks,” the proposal said. “Reduce the scale of blocks wherever possible by providing new streets, mid-block alleys, pedestrian paths, courtyards, paseos, and plazas that connect with other streets and public or common space. Encourage interconnected streets. Short, direct routes for pedestrians encourages walking.”

Creating ample parking was also included as part of the design recommendation. One of the significant issues of the Fireclay development in north Murray is the lack of parking even though city planners in the 1990s envisioned development around mass transit centers. Business owners have complained about residents in the nearby apartment complexes using the parking lots in front of their shops.

In addition to residential and employment spaces, the guideline calls for creating attractions that will draw people to the area. Planners call for redeveloping areas for arts and cultural activities. The wheels are currently in motion to renovate the Murray Theatre, transform the Murray Mansion into the Murray Museum, and even relocate the library to the MCCD.

Additionally, another proposed guideline calls for streetscapes and curbside management. While increasing trees and sidewalk dining, the plan recommends reducing the number of curb cuts. It also suggests increasing public art in the district.

“Incorporate civic art in both public and private development. Consider site factors such as circulation and adjacent uses when selecting and placing temporary or permanent art,” the plan said. “Provide play areas for a variety of ages and groups. Design landscape with opportunities for experiences of nature and varied, challenging play elements. Provide individual and group recreation amenities to encourage physical activity, including courts or game boards.”

One interesting guideline that has not been seen in previous Murray City guidelines is “Connection to the sky.” Specifically, it cites examples such as rooftops, such as the Conference Center in downtown Salt Lake and environmentally sustainable measures. 

The plan calls for “Design roofs and walls to generate renewable energy…and walls to provide habitat supportive vegetation. Use green roofs where feasible. Design wall and roof fenestration to enhance natural lighting without negatively impacting interior comfort.”

The entire MCCD proposal can be found online at murray.utah.gov.

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