Get ready for the heart of downtown to close for business until a grand reopening in 2011.
Three years of planning are about to give way to five years of demolition and construction work: Several prominent downtown buildings will come down to make way for the 20-acre development The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is tentatively calling City Creek Center.
"Thank you for your patience," Presiding Bishop H. David Burton told the Salt Lake City Council on Tuesday. "We hope the wait will be worthwhile."
The plan will be an indoor-outdoor mix of retailers, residences and office space, with six acres of open space gardens, fountains, pedestrian walkways and a mock City Creek running down the middle, roughly along what was once the actual stream's historic south arm.
The ZCMI Center and Crossroads Plaza malls will come down beginning in November, along with the Key Bank building and the Inn at Temple Square. Also slated for demolition: the historic First Security building, with its carved-stone lion heads peering down from the top, Corinthian columns lining the upper levels and Ionic columns nearer the street. The building is also home to peregrine-falcon perches.
Here to stay are the Gateway West, Eagle Gate, Beneficial Financial Group and Zions Bank towers, the Marriott Hotel, Utah Woolen Mills, the Qwest building and the Crandall and McIntyre buildings.
Scheduled to make their debut are a full-service Harmon's grocery store, a new department store, as many as 766 residential units, one new office tower, a pedestrian bridge over Main Street, a host of retailers and a whole new look for the city blocks now dominated by the malls.
The church first announced three years ago it was planning to redevelop the malls to energize the economy of the city that houses its headquarters and to bolster the area near Temple Square.
The plan has gone through a number of incarnations, with city officials, including Mayor Rocky Anderson, sending the church back to the drawing board. Anderson was on vacation and not at Tuesday's meeting, but he has seen the plans, and his spokesman said the mayor is very happy with them.
The council was also pleased, although some members also voiced some concerns.
"Over the years, this project has just become better and better," Councilwoman Jill Remington Love said.
Central to the City Creek Center will be six acres of open space: gardens and lawns clustered around water features following the historic south fork of City Creek, although the water won't come from the actual underground creek.
Running through the two blocks that currently house Crossroads and ZCMI malls from West Temple to State Street between South Temple and 100 South will be extensions of Social Hall Avenue, Regent Street and Richards Street. But these roads won't be for cars; they will be pedestrian walkways.
"One of the planning objectives has been to reduce the size of the large blocks in Salt Lake City," Bishop Burton said. "We have created eight blocks out of two."
The walkways will likely be covered in many areas, although church officials do not anticipate they will be entirely enclosed and climate-controlled.
"It's wonderful to see a shopping mall that has its roof lifted off and begins to connect with the outdoors," Councilman Soren Simonsen said.
The look of the buildings is far from settled. Bishop Burton said work on the architecture will take at least another year.
A skybridge is planned to run across Main Street, connecting retail and residential units on both sides of the project.
William S. Taubman, chief operating officer of Taubman Centers Inc., the developer managing most of the retail, said the project will "bring the best of urban design into a retail shopping district that will function as a first-class regional shopping center but also will reflect the heritage of Salt Lake City."
Simonsen said he was worried that while there may be a lot of good to the new, it's coming at the expense of some of what's good about the old.
"I think it's unfortunate that the architectural heritage of these blocks is being completely lost in this development," he said, specifically mentioning the loss of the Inn at Temple Square and the First Security building, also known as the Deseret Building.
Bishop Burton said both of those buildings were structurally unsafe and would have required major overhauls to become functional. He said the church is considering the possibility that some of the facade can be preserved.
Three national department store chains will anchor the development. The church has announced two of them: Macy's and Nordstrom, both of which have stores in the current malls. Those stores will close in January and won't reopen until the rest of the project does, in 2011. Taubman said negotiations are ongoing with a third store.
In total, the development will have about 928,000 square feet of retail space. Bishop Burton said that represents about a one-third reduction from the amount of retail currently on those blocks.
Simonsen said he worries that the development will favor national retail chains and will not incorporate enough locally owned businesses. Taubman said the selection of retail tenants remains to be negotiated, but he admitted that including local businesses is "a challenge, because the bulk of the retail business in the country in fashion" is done by chains.
Simonsen said he expects the character of the project to be "a little different" from the nearby Gateway development, suggesting that some retail may move from The Gateway to the new project, some may choose to stay put and others may opt for a presence at both developments.
Jake Boyer, president of The Boyer Co., said The Gateway remains "confident that the church will stand by their assurances to us, that they won't be in a mode of raiding tenants from us."
"That's why we feel positive about the development as a whole, that it will be a complementary project to The Gateway," Boyer said. "It doesn't do anybody any good if their strategy is to take tenants from The Gateway. The key element for downtown is that we bring shoppers back downtown."
The stores at City Creek Center will be closed on Sundays, Bishop Burton said. However, many restaurants may choose to stay open.
When the development is complete, it will boast at least 300 residential units. But space is being left for possible future residential buildings, and the number of apartments and condominiums available could approach 800.
"We're very excited about introducing a 24/7 population to Salt Lake City," Bishop Burton said.
Four residential towers will line South Temple. There will also be two floors of housing located above the two floors of retail at various points throughout the project.
Along with the housing comes a grocery store. The Harmon's store will be built on 100 South between State Street and 200 East just south of Social Hall Avenue. A 100-unit residential tower could one day go up next to it.
Dan Lofgren, president of Cowboy Partners, which will own some of the planned housing, said it is too soon to say what the housing will cost, what the mix of condos and apartments will be and what sort of size and floor plans to expect.
As for office space, several existing towers will remain, but even those buildings are set for some changes.
The current Beneficial Financial Group building will become the new Key Bank building. Beneficial Financial Group will move to the current Gateway West building. The Eagle Gate tower and the recently refurbished Zions Bank tower will remain as they are.
At the corner of 100 South and Main Street, the site of the current First Security building, a 200,000-square-foot office tower will be built.
Now that the plans are out there, the church and the developers are looking for public input.
Details of the plan are available on the Web at downtownrising.com. Several open houses will be held at sites throughout the city. And a model of the plan will be showcased at the City & County Building, 451 S. State, for the next several days.
Contributing: Jenifer K. NiiE-mail: [email protected]