Fleet Block Development Un-Paused After Public Engagement Push | News | Salt Lake City Weekly

Fleet Block Development Un-Paused After Public Engagement Push 

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click to enlarge Salt Lake City's Fleet Block, home to protest murals inspired by the murder of George Floyd, is slated to be redeveloped into a mixed-use urban hub and city park. - BENJAMIN WOOD
  • Benjamin Wood
  • Salt Lake City's Fleet Block, home to protest murals inspired by the murder of George Floyd, is slated to be redeveloped into a mixed-use urban hub and city park.

GRANARY—No matter how or why any of the individual faces came to be depicted on one of Salt Lake City's Fleet Block murals, Gina Thayne said Wednesday, someone loves that person; someone misses that person.

Those murals—which line the boarded-up panels of a derelict property long targeted by the city for revitalization—sprung from the nationwide protests following the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. Each depicts a person killed at the hands of a police officer and Thayne's nephew is among them: Dillon Taylor, shot by police outside of a 7-Eleven convenience store in 2014. He was unarmed, and 20 years old. Courts deemed the killing justified.

"I understand that our tragedies aren’t everybody’s tragedies," Thayne said. "But they kind of are."

The Fleet Block has come to be a place of healing for the families whose loved ones line the walls, Thayne said. They see one another there , grieve together and understand each other with an unspoken language, she said.

"None of us asked to be here," Thayne said. "This is a club that no one ever wants to join."

Thayne's comments came during a press conference commemorating a city-launched public engagement and therapeutic counseling campaign, outlined in new signage unveiled Tuesday on the east and north sides of the Fleet Block property.

But it also served as a formal resumption of the city's efforts to redevelop the block, a long-delayed effort newly bolstered by the explosive growth of the Central 9th and Granary District neighborhoods, as well as a new shot in the arm from taxpayers in the form of an $85 million parks bond, roughly $6 million of which will go toward creating green space amenities in the historically neglected area.

That effort was "paused" after the proliferation of the murals, Mayor Erin Mendenhall said, in order to engage the impacted families and reshape the goals for the project to reflect the new significance of the property.

"We needed to recognize that the fleet block murals have been a catalyst of collective healing and of social change," Mendenhall said. "This block has been decades in the making but we never imagined this robust of a public process to help create it. It’s completely unique in the history of Salt Lake City."

Mendenhall outlined the next steps for the Fleet Block, beginning with a proposed rezone of the property currently pending before the City Council. If that zoning change is approved, she said, the formal request for proposals process (RFP) can begin, with interested parties and planners then able to begin shaping proposals.

"Our city and our nation as a whole are grappling with the critical conversations that have not happened before around injustice and what the future of justice and equity looks like in our local spaces," Mendenhall said. "You have helped to create a new way of operating for us as a city."

Development has surged in the surrounding area in recent years, with Central 9th to the east and the Granary District to the west boasting hundreds of new housing units as well as breweries, restaurants and retail spaces, bolstered by zoning that promotes moderately-dense, mixed-use, transit-oriented design.

But that crux of construction—and corresponding trail and street work by the city—has imposed serious strain on both residents and business owners, made worse by years of a pandemic-rattled economy. One neighborhood business, The Big O Doughnuts, recently announced it would be closing its doors in January.

City Councilmember Darin Mano, whose district includes the Fleet Block, said he first heard about plans to redevelop the area 10 years ago. At the time, it was pitched as a "catalyst" that could wake up a neglected corner of the city.

But since then, he said, Central 9th and Granary have both grown up around the stalled project. Rather than one big development meant to spark change, he said, the Fleet Block can be broken up into smaller parcels and enhance the change that's already occurring.

"Now it can be a place where people can live affordably, a place that will foster creatively, a center for diversity for inclusion, a hub for local, growing minority-owned business and a place for us to engage with the community and to serve our community," Mano said. "It will also have an open space, a park that is a destination and will bring nature into this green space-deprived part of our city."

More information on the city's plans can be found at slc.gov/FleetBlock.

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About The Author

Benjamin Wood

Benjamin Wood

Lifelong Utahn Benjamin Wood has worn the mantle of City Weekly's news editor since 2021. He studied journalism at Utah State University and previously wrote for The Salt Lake Tribune, the Deseret News and Entertainment Weekly

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