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Sierra Club hails LDS Church for downtown Salt Lake makeover

Published: Friday, June 20 2008 12:04 a.m. MDT

A new report on faith-based environmental initiatives praises The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for its commitment to be "good stewards" in its massive makeover of downtown Salt Lake City.

City Creek Center, a 20-acre development of residential, retail and office space under construction in the heart of downtown, is highlighted in "Faith in Action: Communities of Faith Bring Hope for the Planet," a national report of the Sierra Club.

The report, released Thursday, cites examples from each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico in which people of faith are showing concern for the environment and working to protect the planet.

For Utah, the report features the LDS Church's efforts to revitalize downtown "in a green manner" through City Creek Center. The project is taking part in a pilot program of the U.S. Green Building Council that promotes environmentally responsible and sustainable development.

"As you look at the tenets of our religion, there is a notion that we must be good stewards in all that we do," said Bill Williams, director of architecture and engineering for City Creek Reserve Inc., a development arm of the LDS Church.

"It is our hope that this project will be prosperous while standing true to our values of wise stewardship and giving back to the community," Williams said in the report.

The USGB's Neighborhood Development program applies a new standard of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system to entire developments, not just single buildings. Projects can be recognized for construction and design methods that place a high priority on good health, the natural environment and quality of community life.

City Creek Center also is praised in the report for employing new-urbanism practices by choosing locations and designing projects that are transit-oriented and encourage walkable communities and more efficient energy and water use.

"We're putting such an investment in mass transit along the Wasatch Front, and it's important for that transit system to have a destination," said Marc Heileson, the Sierra Club's southwest regional representative. "The things the LDS Church is doing with City Creek Center are going to be a positive boost to walkability and transit in Utah."

In addition to seeking LEED certification, more than 50 percent of demolition debris from the City Creek Center project is being recycled. Landscaping of the development will include only native plants, according to CCRI.

City Creek Center is a private development project of the LDS Church, meaning no public money is being used. The project is under construction in the three-block area bordered by West Temple, South Temple, 200 East and 100 South.

The developer estimates that City Creek Center will draw about 10 million people to downtown Salt Lake City annually.

The most recent timeline has landscapers putting the finishing touches on the development by mid-2012. Portions of the project — including parking structures on all three blocks, a Harmons grocery store and a new food court — are expected to be complete next year.

"Faith in Action" is the Sierra Club's first national report on the environmental engagement of communities of faith. The Sierra Club, based in Washington, D.C., with chapters nationwide, is America's oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization.


E-mail: jpage@desnews.com

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