The state will take over the Union Pacific Railroad Depot and turn it into an art museum after the railroad moves its employees out sometime next year, Gov. Norm Bangerter announced Thursday.
The facility at Fourth West and South Temple will house the nearly 90-year-old Utah Fine Art Collection.The bulk of the collection, valued at more than $2 million, has remained in storage for lack of display space. In 1980, a legislative audit recommended that a permanent storage and exhibition space be found for the 1,200-piece collection.
Union Pacific is donating the building, and the state must come up with the money for necessary renovation, Bangerter told reporters and close to 60 arts community members gathered at the depot.
Carol Nixon, executive director of the Utah Arts Council, said the state doesn't know how much the renovation will cost - a feasibility study will be done in the next several months to determine that.
Bangerter said no tax money will be used - instead, private contributions will be sought. A foundation has been created to receive donations. The state Division of Facilities Construction and Management has inspected the depot and found it to be in basically sound condition, so renovation shouldn't be too expensive, the governor added.
Steven A. Goodsell, general solicitor for the railroad, said the company plans to move the employees now in the building to other company facilities in the valley.
The railroad uses part of the building as a systemwide training center and part for crew management operations, but the depot is not as useful as it once was, and the company is pleased that the state will put it to good use and maintain its architectural integrity.
Goodsell confirmed that Union Pacific will seek some kind of tax benefit for donating the building, but he doesn't know how much because he's not sure of the depot's worth.
The early French Renaissance-style facility was opened in 1909. Its original cost was about $500,000, roughly the same as what a new copper roof for it cost in 1978.
Goodsell said the railroad's motivation for turning over the depot was not economic - it just wanted to make sure the historic building is preserved and appropriately used. He praised Bangerter for working with Union Pacific Corp. Chairman Drew Lewis to arrange the state acquisition.
"This is a great day for the arts," Nixon said. "I find it not coincidental that with the driving of the Golden Spike, Union Pacific Railroad, working hand in hand with government, opened Utah to America. And now today, that same spirit of cooperation will open the rich artistic heritage of our beautiful state to the world."