Axios Salt Lake City

Picture of the Salt Lake City skyline

Good morning! It's Thursday.

  • Today's weather: ⚡️ Thunderstorms, with a high near 84°.

Today's newsletter is 856 words — a 3-minute read.

1 big thing: Salt Lake is modeling downtown success

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Salt Lake City's downtown is serving as a model for other cities trying to recover after COVID-19 lockdowns and the transition to remote work.

Why it matters: Downtowns are typically the beating economic heart of a city, funneling revenue into its coffers via taxes and more, Axios' Alex Fitzpatrick reports.

  • They're also cities' spiritual core. If a city's downtown is (or perceived to be) flailing, that tends to dictate the city's overall vibes.

Catch up quick: Salt Lake has seen the nation's strongest downtown recovery, with foot traffic nearly 140% above 2019 levels.

What's happening: Population growth and Utah's consistently strong economy are among the biggest contributing factors, said Dee Brewer, executive director of the Downtown Alliance.

  • "I've seen a huge relocation from coastal cities and other areas, and I think that's a credit to the livability and the economy here," Brewer told Axios.
  • Brewer estimates Salt Lake City's downtown population will double to 10,000 people by mid-2025.
Downtown foot traffic recovery, spring 2023
Data: University of Toronto; Note: Rank among select metro areas; Visitors determined by counting unique mobile phones in ZIP codes with high employee density; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

The big picture: In the remote work era, downtowns with a healthy mix of office space, housing, retail and other attractions are faring significantly better than those that catered mostly to office workers.

  • Office-heavy New York is at 67% of pre-pandemic foot traffic, and San Francisco is at a measly 31.9%.

The bottom line: It's increasingly clear that if cities in the latter group want vibrant downtowns moving forward, they must diversify the functions of those neighborhoods.

  • Such efforts are underway in many major American cities, fueled in part by big incentives for local developers willing to play ball.
  • Office-to-residential conversions are particularly hot — though successful projects require time, money and far more effort than simply swapping desks for beds.

Learn how other cities are trying to boost downtown appeal

2. Our record-breaking heat

Illustration of the hot emoji as a sun.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Salt Lake City had one of its hottest Julys on record, per the National Weather Service.

By the numbers: The average temperature for the month was 85.3°F, tying July 2017 for the third-hottest July in SLC on record.

  • The highest temperature recorded last month was 106°F.

Why it matters: Heat waves are among the most dangerous weather hazards, per Climate Central.

Between the lines: This summer's record-breaking, deadly temperatures in Arizona and worldwide would have been "virtually impossible" without human-driven climate change, according to new data published last month.

Flashback: SLC recorded its hottest July ever last year, breaking a previous record set in 2021.

  • The average temperature last July peaked at 87.3°F. In 2021, it was 85.7°F.

Be smart: Showering before bed and eating fruits and vegetables that contain water can help keep you from overheating.

  • The Salt Lake Valley Coalition to End Homeless lists cooling centers on its website.

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3. Fry Sauce: Nothing but crumbs

Illustration of a neon sign with a rotating, spiked sphere on top that reads Fry Sauce.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

🗳️ A ballot initiative launched by a Utah wine industry consultant would allow grocery stores to sell wine and liquor, now restricted to state-run stores. (FOX 13)

  • Yes, but: Organizers haven't begun to collect signatures to put the question on the ballot for a statewide election.

💻 Adult websites will still have to verify Utah users' ages under a law passed this year after a federal judge on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit filed by the adult entertainment industry, challenging its constitutionality. (Associated Press)

🎭 The historic Kamas Theater, closed since 2014, is being renovated by a Heber City couple who plans to eventually reopen the 1942 venue. (KPCW)

🍎 Seven Salt Lake City schools will be reviewed for possible closure based on student population, building age and safety, the school board voted on Tuesday. (The Salt Lake Tribune)

4. The Mixtape 🎶

Illustration of a cassette tape with the tape unspooling to spell weekend.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The weekend is almost here! It's time to make some plans.

🥘 Indian Food Fair

Sample your favorite dishes and enjoy live entertainment at Salt Lake's 4th annual Indian Food Fair.

When: 11am-8pm Saturday

Where: Liberty Park

Admission: Free

🎭 Lords of Misrule: Court of Hearts

An interactive theatrical performance allows the audience to play a role in Alice's fate in a Wonderland spoof on the American justice system.

When & where: 9pm on Friday and Saturday at Trolley Square

  • 3pm on Sunday and 8pm Monday and Tuesday at Mark of the Beastro, 666 S. State.

Cost: Free, but donations affect Alice's outcome

Restrictions: 18+ only

🎤 God's Trying to Tell You Something

The stage musical celebrates Black historical figures like Harriet Tubman and Martin Luther King, Jr., and the gospel music origins of entertainers like Marvin Gaye, Whitney Houston and Aretha Franklin.

When: 5pm Saturday

Where: Abravanel Hall

Tickets: $60

🪘 Community Bomba

Join Bomba Marilé for an afternoon of singing, dancing and drumming.

When: 3-7pm Saturday

Where: South Salt Lake Community Center's auditorium, 2531 S. 400 East

Cost: Free

Share this with a friend you'd like to see this weekend

On the job hunt?

💼Check out who's hiring on our Job Board.

  1. Business Development Representative at ShipEX.
  2. Senior Landscape Architect at SE Groups.
  3. Head of Product at Anonyome Labs.

Want more opportunities? Check out our Job Board.

Hiring? Use code FIRST50 for $50 off your first job post.

5. Where in Salt Lake?

Where is this photo? Photo: Kim Bojórquez/Axios

We had lots of guesses for last week's "Where in Salt Lake?" game, but none were correct.

  • This time we're zooming out.

State of play: Do you know where we took this photo?

📬 Reply to this email to send us your guess!

  • You could win some Axios swag!

🔌 Erin isn't sure whether she loves USB-C chargers. They're fast but finicky, and her pile of now-unchargable electronics is growing.

👓 Kim is reading this Variety profile on Sarah Snook.

This newsletter was edited by Gigi Sukin and copyedited by Natasha Danielle Smith and Alex Perry.