‘Core and heart of the community’: Public input sought for St. George downtown plan

ST. GEORGE — An update to St. George’s general plan – the city’s blueprint for meeting its long-term vision for the future – is currently underway.

John Willis, community development director for St. George, speaks to the St. George City Council about the draft downtown plan portion of the St. George 2040 general plan update, St. George, Utah, June 9, 2022 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

As the revision for that vision took shape, it soon became apparent to planners that the city’s downtown needed special attention. This has led to the creation of the St. George Downtown Plan which, is currently online for public review.

“This is much more detailed than the master plan,” John Willis, the city’s community development director, said. “In this area we’re looking at: where do we want our commercial (areas) to extend to? How tall do we want the buildings to be? What do we want our housing types to look like? What do we want our streetscapes to look like? Do we want more mixed-use in the downtown area?”

The downtown plan is a much more refined and detailed plan that encompasses what Willis calls the core of the city. This area covers all of St. George between Interstate 15 and Bluff Street and St. George Boulevard. It also extends northwest along Diagonal Street until it intersects with Bluff Street just before the Sunset Boulevard intersection.

“Some of our most historic homes, our landmark sites, are located right in the middle of our downtown area,” said Willis, adding this lends to the challenge of seeking to preserve the history of the city while promoting new development and redevelopment within the area.

The downtown plan is a part of the overall St. George 2040 general plan update. As with the general plan, public input is being sought through an online survey. Survey responses will be accepted through the end of June.

“We have received thousands of responses on previous surveys dealing with St. George as a whole. We now look forward to receiving input specific to the downtown plan,” St. George Mayor Michele Randall said in a press release. “I appreciate everyone sharing their opinions. Hearing from citizens helps us make the best decisions possible to benefit the greatest number of people.”

The area covered by the St. George Downtown Plan | Map courtesy of the city of St. George, Utah, June 9, 2022 | Photo by Mori Kessler. St. George News

The downtown area plan has identified character areas to preserve the traditional neighborhoods that are had downtown while supporting appropriate growth in strategic locations. Those character areas are:

  • Lifestyle.
  • Responsible growth.
  • Economic vitality.
  • Arts and culture integration.
  • Connection to nature.
  • Accessible city.

There are surveys after each character area.

“The survey says, ‘This is where we’re at, these are the questions we have. How do they resonate with you?’” Willis said.

This will be the first time the downtown area has had a master plan, which is needed due to the city’s continuing growth, he said.

“We’ve seen such tremendous growth in our community that having a plan now is extremely crucial to making sure we’re doing it right for the next 20-40 years,” Willis said. “We need to get it right … This is the core and heart of the community.”

The St. George Downtown Plan was also a topic of discussion during a joint meeting held Thursday by the St. George City Council and Planning Commission.

A joint meeting of the St. George City Council and Planning Commission discussing the St. George 2040 master plan update, St. George, Utah, June 9, 2022 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Council member Danielle Larkin, while supportive of elements of the plan, said she worried some of the proposals within it could impact housing accessibility if implemented.

The discussion also included where future two-and-three stories residential units may be allowed. Among the topics were how much density could end up in parts of the downtown and whether there was enough infrastructure to support it.

Despite some objections to particular elements of the draft plan, there was general support among the council and commissioners.

“Downtown St. George is something unique,” council member Gregg McArthur said. “I do like the preservation aspect.”

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2022, all rights reserved.

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!