Case Study

Project: Town of Alta Commercial Core Plan

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Client: Town of Alta

Location: Alta, Utah

Year: 2016

The Town of Alta, Utah and Landmark Design worked together on the Town of Alta Commercial Core Plan during a time when major changes were being planned for Little Cottonwood Canyon. Through the development of a set of “guiding principles” for our project, and a disciplined approach to public involvement, Landmark helped the town focus on its own priorities, and the plan that resulted was reasonable and actionable, but also creative and visionary.   

Chris Cawley
Assistant Town Administrator
Town of Alta

Landmark Design led a team of transportation and economic planners, engineers, architects and visualization specialists in the development of a commercial core plan for the Town of Alta. A mountain resort community of less than 400 residents, the Town of Alta sought to establish a clear, complete vision for the future of its Commercial Core with a specific focus on developing a discernable Town Center. Building on previous planning and visioning activities undertaken by Town staff, the Plan successfully captures the core values and desires of the local community as part of a vigorous public involvement process. The plan articulates a “Commercial Core” and Town Center that will help advance the Town as an important voice in the rapidly changing Wasatch Mountains and Little Cottonwood Canyon locale. Key objectives of the plan include (1) defining an economically viable and sustainable Town Center that provides opportunities for year-round activity, (2) provide places for community interaction and gathering, (3) include employee housing, and (4) provide additional recreational opportunities while maintaining the friendly, small town atmosphere of this mountain resort community.

A range of alternatives were explored and eventually narrowed into a single, preferred concept reflecting public input and the Plan Advisory Committee’s guidance. The plan includes design guidelines, sustainable implementation principles and recommendations for the architectural and built realm, including preferred materials and forms for buildings, plazas, sidewalks, streetscapes, parking areas and trails, in addition to lighting and street furnishings standards.

The plan establishes a clear, detailed and complete vision that balances opportunities for a year-round economy with improved pedestrian connectivity and the creation of vibrant public spaces, all while maintaining the small-town character. It enhances the town’s ability to shape regional planning initiatives—such Mountain Accord—and inform decisions about local land use and transportation, as well as other aspects of Alta’s future. The plan was vetted and enhanced by a rigorous public involvement process which involved regular meetings with a highly-engaged Plan Advisory Committee and public throughout the process. It helped create a unified vision of disparate and often polarized interest groups—the Ski Area, the town, skiers, hikers, developers and operators. The plan was completed in December 2016, adopted in early 2017 and incorporated into the general plan.

Final Document: Town of Alta Commercial Core Plan


Utah Chapter American Planning Association
Achievement Award (2017)

See Project Categories:
Small Area Plan

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