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Recently I had the opportunity to take a walking tour of the downtown Bountiful area. As many of you know the Downtown Bountiful Business Association is opposing the proposal to bring the streetcar through the area. However, after looking at the current status of the downtown area, the association should be supporting this proposal as it may be the best hope of downtown bountiful surviving in the long term.
The first problem I see with downtown Bountiful is there is not much to attract people to the area. The only restaurant in the immediate area has closed so you have to walk to the extreme end of the downtown area to find a place to eat. In addition a shopping area needs a large variety of stores to keep the area vibrant. However, that is sourly lacking in the downtown Bountiful area.
Of course the city of Bountiful is not helping the downtown area. They used government money to put in a Costco obviously like many city councils lusting after the sales tax dollars. Sadly what city councils turn a blind eye to is that healthy small business bring in more sales tax dollars per square foot than a big box retailer.
While I am sure the city council sold the concept that Costco would bring in additional shoppers to the area, the truth is a Costco and stores like it do nothing for the immediate area businesses. A Costco is a destination store so that people go into the store, shop at it and then head home so they bring no money to the surrounding area.
So is the streetcar the magic that will save downtown Bountiful?
The answer to that question is no. However, what the streetcar does is bring new people into the area that would not otherwise travel to downtown Bountiful. It will create new business opportunities for those that take advantage of them.
To bring true success with the streetcar would probably take something that residents of the area would not be willing to do and that is to increase density and bring some infill development into the sea of parking lots that presently litters the area.
While downtown Bountiful has lasted longer than many downtown areas, its life its slowly being sucked away between their own city council and the Centerville city council slowly subsidizing their business away.