The construction of several buildings in the south end of the downtown Salt Lake area will bring new economic life to the area, according to Fred S. Ball, president and general manager of the Salt Lake Area Chamber of Commerce.
He said the state is considering constructing a Utah Department of Employment Security building in Block 53 bounded by State Street and Second East and Third and Fourth South and there is talk of putting a state courts building in the same area. These plans, coupled with construction of a new office building where the Center Theatre sits, should help the area enjoy a resurgence in the next few years.Speaking at the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah, Ball said Block 57, bounded by Second and Third South and Main and State streets, is in deplorable condition, but that should improve because within a week a company will announce it is purchasing the old J.C. Penney building on the northwest corner.
He declined to give names because the news media were present.
Ball said retail business in the ZCMI Center and the Crossroads Plaza is good and sales tax collections are up, but business in other areas of town is suffering. "If we can get the buildings built in the south part of (down)town and generate plenty of traffic to the two malls it will help everybody financially," Ball said.
During the 1970s and early 1980s there was plenty of construction in Salt Lake City, but now the only scaffolding visible is around the City-County Building. Based on his inside information about business expansion, Ball predicted Salt Lake City will blossom and make previous good construction years pale by comparison.
Ball said that during his first 15 years as chamber president, businesses were making a profit and his job was fun, but in the past three years the economic downturn has made his job more difficult. But he said the state "has turned the corner" in the recession and cited low unemployment figures, creation of thousands of jobs and the recent location of several new companies in Utah as signs of economic improvement.