Salt Lake City ready to let the liquor flow

It’s no secret that Salt Lake City isn’t exactly the top destination for travelers who like to bend their elbows a lot. The local culture isn’t terribly sympathetic to booze-fueled partying, but there are signs that icy receptions are being swapped for drinks on the rocks. The capital of Utah recently lifted a prohibition that only allowed two bars on every block downtown. The relaxed rules are the result of an increase in nightlife over the past few years. Drinkers may not be terribly popular … but in this cash-strapped economy, it’s hard to imagine that the state doesn’t want all that extra revenue.

According to the mayor of Salt Lake City, Ralph Becker, “We have diverse needs. We have antiquated laws. It’s an important step in creating a downtown we all want.”

Scott Beck, President and CEO of the Salt Lake CVB calls the measure “an exciting shift for Salt Lake as downtown continues to evolve into one of the most vibrant cultural, business and residential centers in the U.S.” He continues, “Lifting the ban on bar restrictions is a crucial step that will allow the City to reach its rightful place as a sophisticated metropolitan hub.

This new legislation follows broad changes to the state’s liquor laws, which have been criticized frequently by those who like to imbibe. The state’s private club system has been made unnecessary, for example, as Salt Lake City moves to a framework more consistent with what is found in other major cities across the United States.

The shift in liquor laws signals the greater changes that are coming to Salt Lake City. Currently in development is the City Creek Center Project, which will house premier retail, office and residential space on close to 20 acres over three blocks in the heart of Salt Lake City. The district is expected to be completed in 2012.

[Photo by ClarkProductions2008 via Flickr]