After a little touch-up and paint, South Salt Lake will have its first full-scale community center.

OK, that's a stretch. The city will likely spend about $2 million in grant and tax revenues over the next 18 months renovating the old Columbus Elementary School at 2530 S. 500 East.Still, city leaders are pleased to finally have a home for the community's artisans and senior citizen groups.

"We're excited," said South Salt Lake community and economic development director Bruce Talbot. "The center will give the city an extra dimension. It will foster the arts and provide a meeting place for people."

The school's auditorium and lunchroom will also be used for heavily attended City Council meetings.

South Salt Lake bought the old school from the Salt Lake City School District a few years ago and even debated converting the turn-of-the-century structure into a new City Hall.

Later - after South Salt Lake opted to purchase its current City Hall facility at 220 E. Morris Ave. (2430 South) - the call was made to use the building as a community center.

Columbus School closed its doors to students about 10 years ago. It was used by the district for storage before being acquired by the city, Talbot said.

The schoolhouse and five-acre lot was purchased for about $800,000.

Architects are now in the process of piecing together a development plan for the center. Much of the renovation budget, gleaned from a Salt Lake County grant and the city's general fund, will go toward bringing the building up to contemporary seismic codes.

Although the entire building needs some remodeling "the structure is pretty sound," Talbot said.

The converted school will retain its "old mission" style architecture.

South Salt Lake's police officers will also call the center home. The department currently shares City Hall's first floor with the justice court and the city library.

"The (police) are pretty crowded down there," said Talbot, adding the department's future move will allow the city's utilities and financial office to move downstairs for easier public access.