Could an iconic public market transform SLC?

A developer who stirred Salt Lake City’s east bench into a frenzy about the relocation of the Blue Boutique now wants to transfigure downtown’s southwest tip with an eye-popping year-round public market.

Rinaldo Hunt and his property group are pitching a $30 million to $50 million plan to create a San Francisco-style Ferry Building galleria in a cavernous steel foundry alongside 600 South and 500 West.

The vision calls for produce vendors, eateries, an urban agriculture education center, and a tree-lined promenade beneath an iconic “public market” sign visible from Interstate 15’s City Center exit.

At 14 acres, covering nearly two city blocks, the proposed project is almost as big as City Creek Center. And, in terms of transformative potential for the warehouse-laden granary district, it’s nearly as ambitious.

Besides creating jobs and vibrancy, Hunt believes an 80,000 square-foot public market would be a triumph to the burgeoning local-food movement as well as Mayor Ralph Becker’s sustainability push.

“It is one of a kind — no one’s done this yet,” Hunt says about his blueprint hugging the city’s gateway. “It can actually be done in this economy. This is basically going to be the mecca for information on urban agriculture.”

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