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Historic downtown building being restored

Published: Saturday, Aug. 16 2014 8:22 a.m. MDT

Updated: Saturday, Aug. 16 2014 8:22 a.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — A downtown Salt Lake landmark more than a century old is getting a makeover that will help continue its legacy for the next hundred years.

Renovation is underway on a 119-year-old, five-story, 58,000-square-foot building located at 150 S. State. Originally opened in 1896 as a manufacturing building for carriages and farm equipment, the building had been the home of Zim's arts and crafts products for 62 years until 2008.

According to principal architect and former Salt Lake City Councilman Søren Simonsen, the building has been a staple commercial property for decades and is deserving of a new look in the next chapter of its historic lifetime.

“We are trying to capture the essence of what it was,” Simonsen explained, but with modern touches to make the property commercially viable.

The “bones” of the building are structurally sound, he said, but the electrical, plumbing, heating, cooling and lighting systems will all be completely overhauled to make the building energy efficient. A new elevator will also be installed.

“It’s getting a really new life, and it’s going to be a great new chapter,” Simonsen said. “This is going to be another 100-year life expectancy when we’re done with this.”

Major renovation is now underway inside and out. Through the upgrade, the building is being converted to a modern, multi-tenant office building.

The anchor tenant will be Impact Hub Salt Lake — a member-based organization that provides networking for socially and environmentally conscientious business leaders and entrepreneurs. Impact Hub will occupy about 15,000 square feet on the first two floors and basement of the property.

Simonsen said major work on the facade reconstruction is already in progress. Over the next few months, work will occur on the basement and first two levels of the building, which are scheduled for occupancy in October.

The new facade will reference the original design upon completion of the renovation, he said. Inside, crews will work to preserve many of the character-defining features of the building, such as the atrium and mezzanine, ornamented cast iron columns, masonry walls, timber structure, and a large freight lift.

The lift is fully functional and has been carefully maintained, Simonsen said. It is being updated with additional safety features and will continue operating as a freight elevator. A new passenger elevator, new stairways, and new electrical and mechanical systems will make the building comfortable, safe, efficient and suitable for modern office technology needs, he said.

“The building is a historic gem amidst many new downtown projects,” Simonsen said. “The renovation of this building is very consistent with the historic preservation goals of the city and the community vision established in the Downtown Rising master plan."

The building is being retrofitted for solar renewable energy systems, which are anticipated in a future upgrade phase. The overall renovation will cost about $2 million, he estimated.

As the anchor tenant, Impact Hub Salt Lake will provide affordable and collaborative co-working space for social entrepreneurs, Simonsen explained.

“Social entrepreneurship describes a new generation of business leaders who are working not only to make a living, but to make a difference as well,” he said.

Negotiations are ongoing with potential tenants to occupy the remaining space once the remodel is completed, which should be next spring, Simonsen said.

The renovation is designed to retain much of the structural and historic integrity of the property, he said.

“Historic buildings have many benefits, including cultural, environmental and economic, and this project embodies all of those qualities,” Simonsen said. “It’s a great building, and it’s got a lot of life left in it.”

Email: jlee@deseretnews.com

Twitter: JasenLee1

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