SALT LAKE CITY — Some people have a profound impact on the places they live without necessarily having to be in the public eye.
Bob Farrington, the man who founded Salt Lake City’s popular Farmers Market, First Night (New Year’s Eve) celebration, the Salt Lake Music Festival and the city’s influential Downtown Alliance, died of cancer Monday at age 66. He led the Downtown Alliance from its inception in 1991 until 2009 and also served as executive vice president of the Salt Lake Chamber from 2003 until 2009.
"Bob wasn’t just a visionary leader who helped shape Salt Lake City’s modern downtown," said Jason Mathis, current executive director at the Downtown Alliance. "He was also a great friend and mentor."
Farrington’s gracious spirit, astute judgment and planning background made the alliance the authoritative voice for downtown’s evolution and development, said Lane Beattie, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber.
"We extend our deepest sympathies to Maria and the Farrington family," Beattie said. "To know Bob was to love Bob, and he will be missed by Utah’s development community and everyone involved in downtown Salt Lake City."
Behind the scenes, Farrington was one of the key influencers of downtown Salt Lake City’s robust economic development of the past two decades, serving as economic development director for Salt Lake City under Mayor Ralph Becker as well as being a key figure in the city’s urban planning efforts.
A native of New Orleans and a graduate of the University of Houston, Farrington was recruited to Salt Lake City from San Antonio, Texas, where he had served as the director of the Downtown Owners Association of San Antonio. In coming to Utah, his leadership at the Downtown Alliance brought people together, creating partnerships and a voice for the diverse business interests and constituencies that make up Salt Lake’s urban center, Mathis said.
Farrington’s advocacy extended in his role as adjunct professor of planning at the University of Utah and in private practice at Farrington Community, Planning and Development — a consulting firm he founded with his brother Phil. He served as chairman of the panel for the award-winning visioning plan, “Downtown Rising,” and led efforts supporting the TRAX light rail system.
Farrington was also named one of the 25 most influential people to build Salt Lake City’s downtown. He is survived by his wife, Maria Stillman Farrington, two sons and a host of family and friends.
Remembrances can be made to the Bob Farrington Memorial Scholarship at the University of Utah Department of City and Metropolitan Planning.