Bruce Bingham can't help but smile as he looks up at the finished product of years of hard work and planning. It's a cold December morning as he steps inside the gleaming 222 Main building, one of the new landmarks in a downtown Bingham has had a large hand in remaking. As he strides across the marble floor, he waves to the security guards. "The lights look nice. Good job," he tells one of the maintenance workers. He flicks a speck of dust off a coffee table in the lobby, and fluffs the pillows on the sofa. He is a man who takes pride in his work, and as a founding member of Hamilton Partners, the Chicago-based real-estate development company, Bingham has had as much to do with the revitalization of downtown Salt Lake as anyone.
The 222 Main building, the crowning jewel of the Salt Lake City branch of Hamilton Partners, was completed at the end of 2009, marking a huge accomplishment for the company as well as a cornerstone for a new downtown.
The building, which has more than 400,000 square feet of rentable space, has also been awarded a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Certification for its effective use of energy, lighting and water. The sleek structure with its state-of-the art architectural design adds a fresh feel to downtown. It will soon become the headquarters for the Salt Lake City branch of Goldman Sachs, which has more than 1,150 workers. And Bingham's not done: Hamilton Partners is also working on renovating the old Boston Building as well as designing and constructing a new Performing Arts Center on Main Street in Salt Lake City.
Reshaping the heart of the city is about more than just real estate for Bingham. He served as president of the 2010 Days of '47 festivities and is on the executive board of the Downtown Alliance, where he helps head the English Skills learning center, a nonprofit organization that coordinates English tutoring for refugees and immigrants.
Before moving to Utah almost a decade ago, Bingham wasn't so sure he wanted to move his wife and four daughters here, but now insists that he "loves it here."
"Utah is a wonderful place in terms of the people here. There are wonderful, kind, hard-working people. And the governor's attitude towards business make this a great economic environment," said Bingham. "Salt Lake City has been called the Crossroads of the West, but it will become one of the crossroads of the world. We have answers to hard questions here."
— Kelly McConkie Henriod
In September, as the Machine Gun Fire shot its flames toward a hillside of homes in Herriman, it was hard to tell just what was on fire. There were bursts of light, clouds of smoke and an eerie, glowing red line that looked like it was devouring everything in its path. Somewhere against that wall of fire that night, Kevin Williams was frantically bulldozing.
On a rocky slope, with fire on one side and a cliff on the other, Williams pushed a fire line through the dirt and brush for 4.5 hours. It was dark, and he couldn't see well, but he just kept going.
"It was dark and it was smoky," he said of the ordeal. "I was a little scared."
As news reports of the fire came in that night, the toll of destroyed houses varied. Some said one or two homes were destroyed. Others said 15 or 20 were lost. But in the morning, when the smoke cleared, it was official that three homes were gone.
Williams' efforts were directly responsibly for saving 32 other homes that could have burned that night, and he wasn't even supposed to be there. Williams, lead environmental specialist for the Salt Lake County landfill, was at work on Sept. 19 when the Unified Fire Authority called to ask if there was a driver with a bulldozer who could come help.
Williams loaded up his equipment and drove it halfway across the valley before joining the firefighters. As a result of his efforts, Herriman residents and the City Council thanked him personally for the risks he took. The UFA praised him and called his actions "heroic."
"I wouldn't say I was a hero," Williams said after the fire. "I was just doing what I was told to do."
Relatively unknown outside of political circles at the start of the year, the 39-year-old Alpine attorney Mike Lee rode a wave of voter discontent (and tea party support) to become the youngest elected member of the United States Senate. He also helped unseat three-term incumbent Bob Bennett in the process, dramatically shaking up the state of Utah politics.
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