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Placemaking activates rail corridor

Placemaking activates an abandoned rail corridor

By Brian Tonetti

Community action along the Folsom Corridor

The Seven Canyons Trust was selected, among 1,200 applications, for the AARP’s Community Challenge. Efforts built community support for the Folsom Corridor, a proposed east-west connection between west-side neighborhoods and employment, entertainment, and services in downtown Salt Lake City. Adjacent to the Folsom Trail, an uncovered City Creek is proposed to flow towards the Jordan River. Green space and mixed-use development along the corridor will improve neighborhood health and economic vulnerabilities.

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Placemaking was used as a tool to raise awareness for the Folsom Corridor efforts through on-the-ground, urban intervention. Low-cost, short-term efforts that catalyze long-term change. Twenty-one temporary wayfinding signs were placed within the corridor. Users can follow two narratives through prompts on each of the signs. Going from east-to-west, prompts follow the City Creek story. Facts explore the impact of uncovering City Creek, from improved water quality to economic benefits. Adversely, from west-to-east, prompts inform about the Folsom Trail and its connection to the surrounding neighborhood.

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Additionally, 11 pavement markings demarcate the future pathway of the Folsom Trail and City Creek. Markings delineate the corridor as a way to show the surrounding community where the project would take place and build support for its future implementation. Efforts encourage exploration of the current conditions of the corridor. Through opportunities to seek more information, users are encouraged to share their thoughts, ideas, and visions for the future design vision of the project.

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The second component of the Community Challenge was to host a community engagement event. The Seven Canyons Trust partnered with Salt Lake City and Fisher Brewing to host an Oktoberfest celebration at the historic Albert Fisher Mansion and Carriage House. The day started with a walking conversation through the Folsom Corridor, in partnership with Jane Jacobs Walk and Salt Lake City Division of Transportation. The walk started from Mestizos Coffeehouse on North Temple and 600 West. Participants walked each segment of the Folsom Corridor and had a healthy debate on each’s priorities, opportunities, and challenges. One participant suggested of Segment One (500 West to 600 West), “Orient businesses to [City] Creek to expand perceived open space.” Another made a note that, “In general, I like the daylighting concept. I believe it will increase our usable green space which improves the quality of life, as well as property value.” Frequent challenges through all the segments included lighting, noise, trash and debris, and unwanted activity. Suggested opportunities included gateways, art murals, retail opportunities, community gardens, and riparian vegetation enhancements.

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The walk ended at the Fisher Mansion for the Oktoberfest celebration. Fisher Brewing served seasonal selections and its classic Pilsner at the Fisher Mansion for the first time in almost 60 years. In 1884, Albert Fisher, a German immigrant, opened A. Fisher Brewing Company at this location on the banks of the Jordan River. However, in 1957, after a series of acquisitions, the company shut its doors. The Mansion was then molded to several different uses from a monastery to a halfway home. It was purchased by Salt Lake City in 2006.

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Several food trucks and two bands, Pixie and the Partygrass Boys and Park City Polka Players, enlivened the grounds. Over 1,000 attendees came to enjoy brews, bites, and tunes with their neighbors. Attendees were allowed to tour the historic home. Ultimately, the community engagement activated the Fisher Mansion to envision ideas for what this beautiful building might become.

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The Seven Canyons Trust and Salt Lake City Transportation hosted several fun community engagement activities. A cut-and-paste cross section activity allowed participants to design their own Folsom Corridor right-of-way for Segments Three (800 to 900 West) and Four (900 to 1000 West). The most popular amenities were riparian habitat, creek floodplain, sidewalk, car/bus lane, and paved trail, respectively. The two features include in all designs were the creek channel and creek floodplain. The least popular features were car/bus turn lanes, community gardens, lawn, car parking, and bike lanes, respectively. The max building height, 50 feet, was chosen most frequently for the scale of adjacent buildings.

Surveys collected more in-depth information on thoughts, visions, and ideas for the corridor. One participant noted, “Simply having access to water and wetlands would encourage more wildlife and have great psychological benefits. It would help connect, in a very visible way, our mountains and rivers, which I think would be a huge catalyst for further environmental protection and restoration.” Another said, “I love that it's an east-west corridor. I often take TRAX with my bike [and] would love to have a place to ride that's beautiful and away from traffic.”

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A large-map was laid out and participants mapped assets, the location of specific amenities, and opportunities areas. Additionally, participants could sticker six different priorities one through six. One being their highest priority and six the lowest. The highest priority in this activity was green space, followed by creek daylighting, recreation, education, art and placemaking, and economic development, respectively. Over 80 people participated in this activity. Finally, a chalkboard board was placed out for participants to write or draw their vision for what they would like to see in the Folsom Corridor.

What do you want to see here? Click here and scroll to the bottom of the page to share your thoughts, visions, and ideas!

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