In an announcement made just hours ago, several planning and development groups have unveiled a $1.5 billion+ investment in a ten-block area of downtown Salt Lake City. New buildings will be built, new neighborhoods will be created, arts and entertainment facilities will be added, and public transportation, pedestrian walkways, and bicycle access will all be greatly improved. Even City Creek will be brought back above ground.
City planners expect to expand the already large number of top-notch hotels, restaurants, convention facilities, sport venues, public spaces (such as parks, plazas, and monuments) and other amenities to create a fun and lively downtown. The intent is to establish a calm, natural environment in the midst of the city. This will create great opportunities to establish new and unique places for people to meet, socialize, shop, work, learn, and live.
Of course, the world-famous Family History Library is in the midst of this area. The changes may not directly affect the world-famous genealogy library, but there will be huge changes for those who visit. In short, this is going to change the whole "Salt Lake City experience" for hundreds of thousands of visiting genealogists.
While many new and modern structures will be built, city planners are also aware of the numerous historic buildings in the area. Those of significant historic value will be preserved and even improved.
The announcement by the Salt Lake Chamber and other involved groups states, in part:
This investment will transform the city as we know it and provide us with an opportunity to shape the downtown area for decades to come. Because of this, the Salt Lake Chamber and its affiliate, the Downtown Alliance, are sponsoring a business-led, regional collaboration effort called Downtown Rising to create a long-range vision for downtown.
Many ideas about what downtown should be exist in various plans. Downtown Rising is intended to create a single articulated vision that people can rally behind, be inspired by, and make a reality.
This effort will be patterned after the Second Century Plan, a successful Chamber-led planning effort conducted in the early 1960s. The purpose of the effort is to engage the public, provide regional context, and create a collective vision or "vision of visions" so that we have a unified view for the future and a vibrant capital city that reflects our values.
Here are some of the projects announced today:
222 South Main
The Wasatch group of companies and Hamilton Partners have teamed to bring the newest 21-story office tower to the Central Business District.
City Creek Center
A premier retail, office, and residential development will rise on nearly 20 acres across three blocks in the heart of Salt Lake City over the next five years, making the city one of the few in the nation with a vibrant, mixed development at its core. Demolition of part of the site will begin early next month, starting in the northwest portion of the redevelopment area. A progressive wave of demolition will move roughly west to east, followed by excavation and site preparation that will take about a year.
The project will include:
- National department stores to anchor a retail center
- New and refurbished and renamed office towers
- New residential buildings
- A full-service grocery store to serve a growing downtown population
- The reopening or extension of historic downtown streets as pedestrian walkways through two of the blocks - Richards Street, Regent Street, and Social Hall Avenue
- Fountains and man-made streams to represent the historic South Fork of City Creek, supplemented by approximately six acres of gardens and open space
- All parking will be underground, to accommodate some 5,600 vehicles
Gateway Tower / Fidelity Investments Building
The new Fidelity Investments Building will be located at 49 North 400 West by the Rio Grande in an area that is currently vacant. This impressive building will boast 7 floors and 230,000 square feet. Fidelity Investments will be the sole tenant of the building and will begin moving in May 2007. The building will have 90,000 square feet of glass, enough to cover one and a half football fields. Native American artwork will be displayed in the lobby, which will be made with materials native to Utah.
Gateway Olympic Plaza
The Gateway Olympic Plaza is a $10 million dollar building of 78,000 square feet spread out over two floors and will be a combination of retail and commercial space.
Discovery Gateway / Children's Museum
The Discovery Gateway is nearly 61,000 square feet of exhibit, program, and public space dedicated to the support of family fun and exploration. Discovery Gateway offers opportunities to explore the world through science, art, culture, family, and community.
Intermodal Hub / Light Rail
The construction of light rail to the Intermodal Hub is moving quickly. Construction begins September 2006 with infrastructure improvements, including sewer improvements and utility relocation along 400 West, beginning in late Fall of 2006 and continuing through January. Expected completion for the project is early 2008.
Inspired by Leonardo da Vinci's visionary approach to exploring the world, The Leonardo is a one-of-a-kind art, culture, and science center currently under development in the heart of Utah's capital city. Three founding partner organizations, Global Artways, Salt Lake City's arts education program; the Center for Documentary Arts; and the brand new Utah Science Center, have come together to create this new destination for exploration and learning that will be located in the old main library on Library Square.
Salt Palace Expansion
The expansion represents a 40 percent increase in the size of the facility, including a total of 515,000 square feet of exhibit space, 164,000 square feet of meeting space, and 66 meeting rooms. The expansion costs $58 million and the grand opening will occur fall 2006.
The Federal Court House
A new courthouse will be built on the site of the present Frank E. Moss Courthouse. The site will be three acres and encompass the entire block between 300 and 400 South and Main Street and West Temple. It will be 367,188 square feet and include nine district and five magistrate courtrooms with chambers and office support spaces. The project is scheduled to begin construction in 2009 and to be completed in 2011.
The Metro Condominiums
Once completed, The Metro Condos will be a 117-unit residential development offering studio, one, two, and three bedroom condominium residences as well as four unique "Live/Work" units. It is located in the Central Business District in the heart of the City, at 350 South 200 East, about a half block from the TRAX stop at the City Library.
LDS Business College/BYU Salt Lake Center
In July 2006, the LDS Business College moved to the former Triad Center at 300 West North Temple in the first phase of development of a new educational complex that will also house the Salt Lake extension center of Brigham Young University.
Church History Library
A new 5-story Church History Library on the northeast corner of South Temple and Main will provide scholars, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and other researchers an expanded, more comfortable research facility and enhanced access to Church archive collections.
Zions Bank Tower
Exterior re-skinning is already finished on the Zions Bank Tower at Main Street and South Temple. Interior remodeling is nearing completion.
Of course, the biggest question for genealogists is, "What about the Family History Library?" In fact, that library is not mentioned in this announcement. It appears that the Library will remain in more or less the same form as today.
The second biggest question from visiting genealogists might be, "What about the Plaza Hotel?" That is the hotel next door to the Family History Library and often used by visiting genealogists. As mentioned in earlier articles this year in this newsletter, the Plaza Hotel has already been changed. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is converting part of this existing hotel on the northwest corner of South Temple and West Temple to female student housing for LDS Business College. However, most of the rooms in the building will continue to be available for hotel patrons. The former Travelodge Motel near North Temple and 300 West is being renovated to accommodate male students of the college.
Officials are adamant that no tax dollars will be used in this expansion. As stated in the announcement, "Downtown Rising is funded by generous business and community leaders who are committed to a healthy, vital, and livable city core."
You can find more information about the $1.5-billion expansion at http://www.downtownrising.com. In fact, there is a lot more information there!
I suspect the bottom line for genealogists will focus on three major items:
- The Family History Library will remain in more or less the same format as it has been for several years.
- Transportation, especially for visitors who do not have automobiles, will be greatly improved.
- There will be more hotels and more restaurants than ever.
There will be more things to see and do in downtown Salt Lake City. C'mon, push away from that microfilm reader!
My thanks to Lee Drew for being the first to tell me about this huge project.