Salt Lake County has made an offer to Salt Lake City to lease two floors of unoccupied space in the Metropolitan Hall of Justice, left empty when the city's police department moved to a new building, city officials said.
The county offered to lease the second and third floors from the city, some of which could be used as temporary jail space, city Property Manager Eric Thorpe told Mayor Palmer DePaulis on Monday.DePaulis ordered the meeting closed to reporters after the proposal was aired so he could discuss in private negotiating a lease for the building at 450 S. Third East.
County Appraiser Lee Colvin confirmed that the city and county were negotiating a lease.
Thorpe said a significant amount of research was conducted to determine ownership of the building. A 1961 agreement between the city and the county left the city with 51 percent ownership and the county with 49 percent.
But countless "side deals" to rearrange occupancy have been made over two decades, clouding ownership, he said. However, he concluded the city still has "substantial interest" in the building.
But Thorpe said the county is "concerned about jail capacity" and could use some of the two floors for additional jail space.
County officials have discussed the possibility of building temporary facilities in the Hall of Justice to relieve crowded jail conditions until a new 350-cell jail is built on the Jordan River north of 33rd South.
Under the proposal, the county would also move sheriff's personnel now working on the ninth and 10th floors of the Hall of Justice to the lower floors, Thorpe said. That would leave the hall's high rise empty.
Several alternative uses for the high rise exist, but because the building is seismically inadequate and upgrading it could be costly, the building may be demolished, DePaulis said.
"If the cost of razing (the hall) was the cheapest way to go, obviously that would be an alternative," he said.