Murrayites to city: More local retail, walkability, and beautification for downtownSep 04, 2022 10:42AM ● By Shaun Delliskave
By Shaun Delliskave | [email protected]
After deciding to go back to the drawing board, Murray City released its survey results about what to do with downtown, otherwise known as “Block One” (4800 S. State Street). Murray’s market research contractor, Y2 Analytics, presented its findings to the city council’s July 19 Committee of the Whole meeting.
In 2021, the city presented an open house for the “48th and State” project, comprising two six-story residential buildings of 262 rental units and over 26,000 square feet of retail space. However, at the open house, residents’ comments were critical, feeling a lack of input about density, retail, historical preservation, and the overall look of the project.
“I think it’s a good reminder residents’ voices are valuable, and they do elect us to really work with them in tandem, and in some of these spaces, this is a good starting point. This document can serve us way beyond just Block One, and I think that’s a good approach,” City Councilmember Rosalba Dominguez said.
In total, 939 Murray residents were sampled from randomly selected households within the city boundaries. Nearly split equally between female/male, respondents were similarly represented in age groups. The vast majority of respondents were white: 84%.
When considering the city’s overall health, Murray residents express high levels of satisfaction—86% would recommend Murray as an excellent place to live.
“Overall, we find that residents express relatively high levels of satisfaction. Over two-thirds of residents say that they feel the city is headed in the right direction, and a vast majority would recommend the city as a good place to live. So, really, positive assessments about the health of the city overall,” Y2 Analytics Vice President Kyrene Gibb said.
By contrast, residents express much more negative feelings toward the city’s current downtown area, particularly the Block One district. The concerns include too much high-density housing, the need for more local stores/restaurants, and the need to beautify the area.
“When we think about the downtown area specifically, and Block One in its current state, as you might expect, there’s a little bit less enthusiasm. Residents are a little bit concerned about some of the direction of development downtown or the options that have been considered for development…including the possibility of too much high-density housing and a desire for more of a local hometown, downtown feel. So, small stores or shops and restaurants and just an overall desire to beautify the area—those were some of the common themes that came out in the open-ended responses,” Gibb said.
“We do see a majority support there again with a leaning towards restaurants and local shops—sort of a walkable atmosphere is what residents would like to see downtown. There is not so much conclusion around how that development should be funded. So, we’re looking at basically a coin toss, statistically speaking, as to whether residents would prefer to see the city develop the land and rely on tax dollars to do that and potentially increase taxes to develop the area or sell the area and have it be developed privately,” Gibb said.
While most residents agree that they would like to preserve the historic look and feel of the area, there is equal support for restoring the landmark Block One buildings and replacing some with new buildings that maintain a historic look.
“We do find that a majority of residents are interested in preserving the historic look and feel of Murray City. They’d like to maintain the character of the city that they know and love, and sort of leaning on historic architecture in new buildings is also a priority going forward,” Gibb said.
Residents report that their top priorities for the redevelopment would be open space, walkability, places to gather, and local business such as “mom and pop” stores. In addition, residents prioritized elements that improve the area’s atmosphere, such as landscaping, walkable plazas, and outdoor dining areas.
“Walkability, places to gather, sort of open in a relaxed commercial environment seems to be the direction that residents would like to see the downtown area,” Gibb said.
The complete survey results can be found online at: https://www.murray.utah.gov/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/6160.