Salt Lake City high rise is ready for occupancy on Main

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 4 2009 12:00 a.m. MST

Salt Lake City building officials gave the 22-story high rise at 222 S. Main a certificate of occupancy Monday, but it looks like few workers will be occupying it for now.

The building's developer, Hamilton Partners of the Chicago area, has only 20 percent of the building leased, said Bruce Bingham, a founding partner of Hamilton, at a roundtable discussion of downtown development Tuesday. That's the same occupancy rate that was reported in April.

"We anticipate folks will start moving into the building in January," Bingham said.

So far, the Salt Lake offices of two law firms — Denver-based Holland & Hart LLP and Chicago-based Brinks Hofer Gilson & Lione — have signed leases at 222 S. Main. So has the local office of Los Angeles-based commercial real estate firm CB Richard Ellis.

Despite the low occupancy rate, Bingham remains optimistic about what will be one of the tallest buildings in Salt Lake City.

"Things are looking good for additions to that (20 percent)," he said.

Tuesday's roundtable discussion was in the remodeled O.C. Tanner building at 15 S. State. The historic building's renovation is another downtown project and opened in September. The building previously housed the Hansen Planetarium and Salt Lake City library.

Curtis Bennett, O.C. Tanner vice president of retail operations, said the company, after buying the building, hesitated over the decision to remodel it and open the flagship store downtown.

"Anybody who hasn't second-guessed it is crazy," Bennett said. "There was a time, of course, when we second-guessed the project."

O.C. Tanner never thought about scrapping the downtown project. "It was just a matter of postponing it. Ultimately, the decision was made to go forward."

Aiding companies' decisions about moving downtown is City Creek Center, a three-block development by City Creek Reserve Inc., a development arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in partnership with Detroit-area retail developer Taubman Centers Inc.

City Creek Reserve is spending more than $1 million a day on construction, and the project ultimately will cost around $3 billion, said Chris Redgrave, a KSL executive who also chairs the Salt Lake Chamber's Can-Do Coalition, which is looking for ways to jump-start the downtown economy.

City Creek will have office buildings, retail stores and residences, said Mark Gibbons of City Creek Reserve.

"There are 1,700 construction workers on site right now," he said. "And if you ask any one of them if it's a good idea to move forward, I think the resounding response would be, 'Yes.' "

Local developer Vasilios Priskos of InterNet Properties said that while City Creek will have high-end leases and attract national companies, Main Street likely will include locally owned "ma and pop" businesses. And many are coming in, such as the Bay Leaf Cafe at 159 S. Main.

Seth Radford, one of the cafe's owners, said he never considered opening a restaurant outside of downtown.

"Lease rates have not changed much on Main Street," he said. "Main Street is a unique animal of itself."

That could change, however, when a proposed Broadway-style theater is built near 100 South and Main. "There's still some great opportunities out there for local businesses," Priskos said.

e-mail: lhancock@desnews.com TWITTER: laurahancock

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