Salt Lake City will be closing a block of Main Street to cars to help our struggling downtown businesses. It’s part a new effort, “Open Streets” providing new options to allow residents and visitors the space to enjoy the energy of downtown. Art activations and performances will run from Exchange Place up to City Creek Center. The block between South Temple and 400 South — home to a dense stretch of bars and restaurants — will be closed to car traffic from 6 — 10 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Read on to learn about the thinking behind this effort and as always we welcome your thoughts and feedback.

Fall is in the air, finally a break in the temperatures. Our hearts and minds are downtown, and we have some great new efforts to share in our COVID-19 recovery.

It is imperative that we re-imagine downtown Salt Lake City. With help from the Salt Lake City Downtown Alliance, in partnership with Mayor Erin Mendenhall, Salt Lake City’s Planning Division, The BLOCKS SLC and DABC we’re working on solutions to aid our local business owners.

Recovery from COVID-19 is going to require more than just al fresco dining. Our restaurants are doing everything they can to protect employees and patrons alike. Salt Lake County mask mandates are working.

“There is a strong, sweeping need to reimagine public space and create socially distanced ways to navigate Salt Lake City over a longer term,” says Salt Lake City’s Department of Economic Development Acting Business Development Director Peter Makowski.

In July, Salt Lake City released a new design guide for restaurants and bars to expand outdoors. The DABC relaxed Temporary Outdoor Patio Requirements opening up new possibilities.

Recently, Bloomberg CITYLAB released an article about plans in Baltimore, Maryland that go beyond restaurant and bar solutions. It includes “modular concepts for outdoor retail, public cleansing stations, community art classes, and pop-up services like haircuts and mobile libraries.”  Many of the designs are built around the notion of a far more car-free streetscape.

It’s a concept that the Downtown Salt Lake City Alliance and Mayor Erin Mendenhall have been working toward. Re-thinking layouts and social distancing requirements can create spaces that are great opportunities for people to gather and gather safely.

This week, we will see our first major experiment – on Main Street between 300 and 400 South.  “Open Streets SLC” is a new offering for expanded outdoor dining, performances, and art activations. The activation runs from 6:00 – 10:00 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays through October 10.

Not to be confused with a street festival or a block party, it is an expansion of Main Street pedestrian options to allow residents and visitors the space to enjoy the energy of downtown. Parts of Main Street will be closed to automobile traffic and open to physically distanced urban fun. Open Streets will run from 6-10 p.m. each Thursday, Friday and Saturday from September 17th to October 10th. 

“Downtown Salt Lake City is the heart and soul of Utah and has been dealt tremendous challenges this year through the pandemic, the earthquake, a windstorm and more,” said Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall. “I’m excited to have ‘Open Streets’ coming to Main Street and I hope residents from around the state will join us downtown as we safely begin to reactivate our vibrant and culturally diverse downtown core.”

Physical distancing, face coverings, frequent disinfecting and other safety guidelines are requested. Restaurants and shops require facemasks upon entry. $2 parking is available in the parking garage located on Gallivan Avenue thanks to the Wasatch Group. City Creek Center offers complimentary parking for the first two hours. 

Open Streets is a partnership between Salt Lake City, the Downtown Alliance and THE BLOCKS to sustain downtown restaurants and retailers.  

“Projects like these are a great way to start talking about who the streets are for, and why,” says Peter Makowski.

133 restaurants and bars and over 100 local and downtown-only retailers are open downtown and it is time to get out and support them. This next phase is an important step to recovery, to better support our businesses in a physically distanced, responsible way. It’s about public health in how we rethink public spaces.


Want to take advantage of new permitting for your business or start the conversation on your block?

Temporary business permits in the right-of-way are administered by the Capital Asset and Real Estate Services (CARES) Division of the Salt Lake City Department of Community and Neighborhoods.

These permits expire automatically on October 31, 2020. For more information, and to apply for a permit, contact:

Capital Asset and Real Estate Services Division, Salt Lake City Department of Community and Neighborhoods

MAILING ADDRESS: PO Box 145460 Salt Lake City, Utah 84114

EMAIL: PHONE: 801-535-6230