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Downtown renovation project

Published: Tuesday, March 27 2007 12:09 a.m. MDT

Crossroads Plaza, on the corner of West Temple and South Temple, is being demolished for the new City Creek Center.

Mike Terry, Deseret Morning News, KSL TV-Chopper 5

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As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, many of them from out of town, descend on Salt Lake City this weekend for the LDS Church's annual General Conference, they are certain to notice some commotion: Two blocks in the heart of downtown are kind of a mess.

The blocks that encompass the Crossroads Plaza and ZCMI Center malls are the site of a massive downtown renovation project, spearheaded by the LDS Church in its efforts to bolster the economy and tourism of its headquarters city.

ZCMI and Crossroads, both of which are owned by the LDS Church, will be torn down, as will most other buildings on the blocks, to make way for City Creek Center, a 20-acre mixed-use development, bringing new residential, retail and office space to the heart of downtown.

But with all the construction — or, more accurately at this point, deconstruction — going on, there will only be one wholly inaccessible area for conferencegoers to navigate. The sidewalk running along the east side of West Temple from South Temple to the Marriott Hotel is closed.

Other sidewalks are also closed, but they have been replaced by covered walkways.

When the center opens, which LDS Church officials expect will be sometime in mid-2011, it will include four residential towers on South Temple, office space both in existing and new buildings, three department stores — Nordstrom, Macy's and Dillard's — and two levels of smaller retail stores that front an indoor-outdoor pedestrian walk.

The retail component will be managed by mall giant Taubman Centers Inc.

There will also be a spot on 100 South for a 415-foot-tall fifth residential tower, which would be among the state's tallest buildings. It won't be part of the first phase of the development but will be built later depending on how quickly the other condominiums are bought up.

It will be built between the Marriott Hotel and the Crandall and McIntyre retail buildings, all of which will be spared by the wrecking ball. Other current buildings that will remain are the Gateway West, Eagle Gate, Beneficial Financial Group and Zions Bank towers, Utah Woolen Mills, the Qwest building and the historic Deseret/First Security Bank building.

Two more future condo buildings may one day be built on the block just east of the Crossroads block, and there will be two levels of apartments for rent above some of the retail space. In the end, there could be anywhere from 300 to 700 residential units in the project.

Church officials have not said how much they expect the entire development to cost, though city officials and others have estimated it could be an investment of $1 billion or more.

Money for the project is not coming from LDS Church members' tithing donations. City Creek Center is being developed by Property Reserve Inc., the church's real-estate development arm, and its money comes from other real-estate ventures.

PRI has owned the ZCMI Center since the mall was built in the 1970s. That block has been home to the Zions Co-operative Mercantile Institution department store since it was founded in 1868 with the church as a major backer. ZCMI was sold to the May Company in 1999 and became a Meier & Frank store, and later became Macy's when May was acquired by Federated Department Stores in 2005. But the mall remained PRI property.

The church bought Crossroads Plaza in 2003 and announced it planned to give the two blocks a major face-lift. Since then, the church has unveiled ideas for that renovation that have been nixed by city leaders. The City Creek Center incarnation, unveiled in September, has received widespread praise and has already received several city approvals.