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Downtown rebound: LDS Church unveils plans for 20-acre development

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 4 2006 1:07 p.m. MDT

John Walker, left, and Mitch Davis of United Van Lines move fixtures out of the Nation's Creations store in the Crossroads Mall Tuesday.

Jason Olson, Deseret Morning News

Get ready for the heart of downtown to close for business until a grand reopening in 2011.

Three years of planning are about to give way to five years of demolition and construction work: Several prominent downtown buildings will come down to make way for the 20-acre development The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is tentatively calling City Creek Center.

"Thank you for your patience," Presiding Bishop H. David Burton told the Salt Lake City Council on Tuesday. "We hope the wait will be worthwhile."

The plan will be an indoor-outdoor mix of retailers, residences and office space, with six acres of open space — gardens, fountains, pedestrian walkways and a mock City Creek running down the middle, roughly along what was once the actual stream's historic south arm.

The ZCMI Center and Crossroads Plaza malls will come down beginning in November, along with the Key Bank building and the Inn at Temple Square. Also slated for demolition: the historic First Security building, with its carved-stone lion heads peering down from the top, Corinthian columns lining the upper levels and Ionic columns nearer the street. The building is also home to peregrine-falcon perches.

Here to stay are the Gateway West, Eagle Gate, Beneficial Financial Group and Zions Bank towers, the Marriott Hotel, Utah Woolen Mills, the Qwest building and the Crandall and McIntyre buildings.

Scheduled to make their debut are a full-service Harmon's grocery store, a new department store, as many as 766 residential units, one new office tower, a pedestrian bridge over Main Street, a host of retailers and a whole new look for the city blocks now dominated by the malls.

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The church first announced three years ago it was planning to redevelop the malls to energize the economy of the city that houses its headquarters and to bolster the area near Temple Square.

The plan has gone through a number of incarnations, with city officials, including Mayor Rocky Anderson, sending the church back to the drawing board. Anderson was on vacation and not at Tuesday's meeting, but he has seen the plans, and his spokesman said the mayor is very happy with them.

The council was also pleased, although some members also voiced some concerns.

"Over the years, this project has just become better and better," Councilwoman Jill Remington Love said.

Central to the City Creek Center will be six acres of open space: gardens and lawns clustered around water features following the historic south fork of City Creek, although the water won't come from the actual underground creek.

Running through the two blocks that currently house Crossroads and ZCMI malls — from West Temple to State Street between South Temple and 100 South — will be extensions of Social Hall Avenue, Regent Street and Richards Street. But these roads won't be for cars; they will be pedestrian walkways.

"One of the planning objectives has been to reduce the size of the large blocks in Salt Lake City," Bishop Burton said. "We have created eight blocks out of two."

The walkways will likely be covered in many areas, although church officials do not anticipate they will be entirely enclosed and climate-controlled.

"It's wonderful to see a shopping mall that has its roof lifted off and begins to connect with the outdoors," Councilman Soren Simonsen said.

The look of the buildings is far from settled. Bishop Burton said work on the architecture will take at least another year.

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