A Proud Legacy
Named for Mormon settlers who established Salt Lake City, this
10-acre plot of land hosted many First Nations encampments over the centuries for the same reason it drew the pioneers: natural springs and a source of water. In July of 1847—a week after their arrival in the valley—the eponymous pioneers began construction of a walled fort for arriving settlers from around the world. For twenty years, this space was a place of rest and reprieve for those who hoped to make Salt Lake City their home. By 1890, the area was used as a playground, and on Pioneer Day, 1898, the location was dedicated as one of Salt Lake City’s first five parks.
Over the next century, the neighborhood continued to be the gateway to the state for wave after wave of new pioneers: Greek, Italian, and Japanese immigrants to name a few. But with shifting priorities and changing demographics, the park fell into disuse and disrepair.
Today, the Pioneer Park neighborhood is a hive of activity. Entrepreneurs and residents use the park daily, and visitors flock to signature events like the Twilight Concert Series and the downtown Farmers Market. Pioneer Park is still the heart and soul of the neighborhood, and now a new generation of pioneers looks to what will come next for these fabled 10 acres.
A Growing Neighborhood
Downtowns across the nation are seeing renewed interest as Baby Boomers and Millennials return in droves to work, play, and live. downtown was once only home to a small number of residents, wheras today over 10,000 people reside downtown. Plus, 2,344 new residential units are planned or currently under construction.
While changing tastes and priorities are contributing to downtown’s revival, much of the growth is a direct result of decades of work done by committed residents, entrepreneurs, artists, and their allies in government. To capture this momentum and capitalize on the value it brings, stakeholders must continue to invest in downtown amenities aimed at serving the growing downtown population and attracting visitors and business which fund such growth with their tax dollars. This includes not only investing new amenities, such as the Eccles Theatre, but in dedicating ourselves to existing community assets, such as Pioneer Park.
A Bright Vision
Significant investments call for significant returns. Additional spending on Pioneer Park must do more than maintain the status quo—a park that is deeply engaging when it’s programmed and deeply troubled when it’s not. Pioneer Park can’t simply turn a page, it must begin a new chapter:
- A park for everyone—every day of the year
- A park that is purpose-built to serve a broad range of one-time and on-going events
- A park that is purpose-built to discourage anti-social and criminal behavior
- A park that is at once a regional draw and a neighborhood gem
- A park that treasures its noble past and embraces a vibrant future
- A park that pays its way
Now is the Time
The timing of this venture couldn’t be better. We have a strong regional economy, a growing downtown population, and alignment of key public and private sector interests. Even better, we have the shining example of other cities who’ve paved the way before. With a host of templates to choose from, Pioneer Park promises to be best-of-breed:
- Bryant Park, New York City
- Millenium Park, Chicago
- Discovery Green, Houston
- CityGarden, St Louis
Each of these parks highlight the power of public-private partnerships to bring urban parks to life, in turn advancing civic and economic goals. In addition to strong templates from which to draw, the last few decades have seen the rise of organizations who are conducting the research so much of this progress is built upon:
- Project for Public Spaces
- Urban Land Institute
A Bold Plan
In January of 2015, Pioneer Park Coalition, in conjunction with Salt Lake City and [name of consultancy], held a week-long community planning workshop to update the Phase II plans for Pioneer Park. The result was a shared vision for the park’s future—in the shape of four concurrently developed concepts. While they differed in some ways, these competing concepts shared a remarkable understanding of the park, its place in the city, and the best way to achieve its potential. Building on these commonalities, we are confident that a final plan will capture the very best of a public process that has taken the better part of a decade to complete, and include:
- A “great lawn” large enough to host large concert audiences, regular soccer matches, and impromptu games of Frisbee
- A permanent stage, worthy of the
- Twilight Concert Series
- Dedicated space for sport courts, dog area, and farmers market stalls
- A playful and iconic water feature
- Large-scale art
- Fine-grained, programmable spaces that compliment the great lawn
- Flexible and permanent concession and café space
- Pervasive interpretive elements that highlight the neighborhood’s rich and varied history
- Careful preservation of the park’s urban forest
- Secure, bright, and modern restrooms
- Year-round programming
- Full-time security
A bare-bones refresh of the park will take $15M, based on industry standards of about $1.5M per acre. $15M can create a park with modern and reliable infrastructure and the additional $5–$15M will deliver a park that full capitalizes on Pioneer Park’s potential. In addition to the one-time ask, we will be securing a permanent source of funding for ongoing maintenance, security, and programming.
The difference of what a $30M park looks like will be marked, and can be the difference between attracting smaller, regional sponsors and larger, national ones. Some likely differences:
- Technical sophistication of the permanent stage
- The robustness of the urban forest on opening day—large
- Sophistication and obtrusiveness of utilities serving vendors, event organizers, and the public
- Scale and quality of art installations
- Presence of supplemental amenities for the users of the stage and great lawn
- Support for winter amenities and programming