Latest designs for Folsom corridor show city’s ambitions for 3-block linear park

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The shape of new public amenities linking Downtown to the near west side are coming closer into view as consultants this month released refined concepts for three blocks of the Folsom corridor between 700 and 1000 West.

Latest drawings show abundant water features, with a diverted City Creek supplying the flow along a two-block stretch. A plaza anchoring the east end of the project, adjacent to, and under, the I-15 overpass, aspires to provide a public gathering space close to Downtown – despite the Interstate’s noise and air pollution.

Just south of the North Temple Boulevard transit corridor, and adjacent to Union Pacific’s western line out of the city, the Folsom Trail is looking more and more like a linear park. It plays a vital role in the City’s plans for redevelopment of the area, which is transitioning from light industrial to residential use.

The trail’s evolution is a story we’ve covered more than once, here, and also here.

The Folsom Trail is planned to reach the Jordan River Trail once rights-of-way can be negotiated across private gas- and railroad-company property west of 1000 West.

Project leaders emphasize that these concepts are not final. Brian Tonetti, Executive Director of Seven Canyons Trust told us the two concepts will be “reworked” and “finalized over the course of the next few weeks.”

Once determined, the preferred designs will be found on the project website. Tonetti added, “Community members will be encouraged to provide feedback on how the amenities are prioritized and the visual aesthetic of the two concepts.”

Let’s look at the latest design concepts for the nearly three-block stretch.

The city’s first new Downtown park in decades

Between the I-15 overpass at ~700 West and the Dominion Energy property at 1000 West, designers and engineers are imagining more than a paved trail for walkers and bikers.

Consultants – a team including Bio-West environmental, CRSA Architecture Planning & Design, and Avenue transportation group – produced two alternatives for the two segments and the plaza, which reach nearly three city blocks.

Water supply and treatments

Even thought the project is “daylighting” City Creek, neither of the proposed alternatives imagines a pseudo-natural recreation of the creek and a riparian corridor.

Instead, more sculptural designs were chosen, which treat the water in a fountain-like fashion.

A full-on flowing, surfaced City Creek is out of the question, given that most of its water will stay in the channel beneath North Temple.

Project segments

Two meta-design concepts (Containers and Rail Yard) are offered for each of the three segments, also called “Areas.”

•Segment A is the furthest west, from 1000 West to 900 West.

•Segment B is 900 West to 800 West.

•Segment C is the plaza space between 800 West and I-15.

Segment/Area A

This segment enjoys a wide right-of-way, where a public street, Folsom Ave., parallels the trail on the south. Shadows from likely multi-story development won’t impact the corridor here as dramatically as in Segment B.

Courtesy CRSA Architecture Planning & Design

A large mural is imminent for the long wall on the north and west side of this segment, the product of an agreement between Seven Canyons Trust and the property owners.

In February Seven Canyons, a partner stakeholder in the Folsom corridor project, announced a $15,000 award competition for the artwork. Other sponsors include the City’s Redevelopment Agency, the Crocker Catalyst Foundation, the River District Business Alliance, Align Complete Real Estate Services, and the Salt Lake City Arts Council.

Given that the one-story light-industrial building is facing inevitable demolition, we wondered about the mural’s long-term contribution to the area.

A representative for the City’s RDA told us that “Seven Canyons Trust, the Property owner, and the selected artist will enter into a contract to maintain the mural for a minimum of 5 years.”

Segment/Area B

The right-of-way narrows considerably between 900 and 800 West. Shadows from adjacent development on the south will limit sunlight into the corridor.

This area is zoned TSA-UN-T, which allows building height up to 60 feet with design review. Future development scenarios – with building massing – are included in the consultants’ images below.

Courtesy CRSA Architecture Planning & Design

Segment C – the Plaza

Space for the plaza is squeezed between UP tracks, I-15, 800 West, and privately-owned single-family housing. The space is owned by the city. Currently it is mostly used by people living under the overpasses in tents. I live a block away.

Designers will have significant challenges in making such a marginal space attractive to bourgeois users.

There might be reasons to doubt the likely success of a park blanketed by noise and pollution from the 10 plus lanes of car and truck traffic above, an adjacent freight rail line, and the long shadows cast by the raised concrete Interstate.

Those environmental conditions have long deterred development in the area. At the same time, its marginality made it a place for homeless to camp, we might say, traditionally. It bears reminding that this area “by the tracks” has long been known as the gateway area (before the mall adopted the name) – a gateway, which in part means a border-like character, where newcomers find or don’t find their entry into the city.

The challenge of redevelopment of the eastern end of the Folsom segments here considered is undeniably one of controlling space. The Folsom Trail, and the bold visions of latest proposals, are undoubtedly on the front lines of that near-west side transformation.

Courtesy CRSA Architecture Planning & Design

Editor’s note: This post has been updated. A correction has also been added – a previous version listed “the Salt Lake County Arts Council” as a sponsor of the mural prize competition. The correct body is the Salt Lake City Arts Council.

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Posted by Luke Garrott

Luke Garrott, PhD, has published in The Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News, and written features for the Salt Lake City Weekly City Guide and The West View. A former two-term councilman in Salt Lake City's District 4, he lives in Downtown Salt Lake City and grew up in the Chicago area.