The two-block downtown demolition zone that one day will be known as City Creek Center is now a building site.
After more than a year of demolition work, construction crews will begin the building phase of the massive project this weekend by pouring the foundation for a 32-story residential tower on the corner of South Temple and West Temple.
The fate of a skybridge over Main Street the $1.5 billion project's most controversial feature may be determined soon.
Thursday's announcement that Okland Construction will begin work on the building this weekend came just moments before developers met with the Salt Lake City Council to again tout the necessity of a skybridge connecting the second levels of the mixed-use development's retail component.
Council members reviewed the favorable recommendation from the Planning Commission on the design of the skybridge in preparation for its upcoming decision on whether it is allowed under city ordinance.
City Creek Reserve Inc., a development arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, received mostly favorable feedback from the City Council, which bodes well for the developers.
"This has all the aspects of a good walkable development," Councilman Van Turner said. "I applaud this project. I think it's going to be really great for downtown."
Soren Simonsen was the only member of the council who expressed any disapproval with the project, saying he still struggles with having a second level of retail because it may hurt other parts of downtown.
With City Creek Center and The Gateway, downtown Salt Lake City will have eight "really good blocks of retail activity," he said. "But because both of these blocks are on two levels, we've eliminated four blocks of retail."
First-year council members JT Martin and Luke Garrott didn't weigh in on the skybridge Thursday, though they'll have plenty of opportunity to do so. Another work session to discuss the skybridge is scheduled for Tuesday, which also will include a project update from H. David Burton, presiding bishop of the LDS Church.
A public hearing and vote on the skybridge are planned for the City Council's April 1 meeting.
Nearly a year ago, the City Council approved an amendment to the city's master plan to accommodate the skybridge. The master plan previously prevented skybridges over city streets but now allows for bridges to be considered if they meet certain conditions including the promotion of a vibrant streetscape.
Garrott has been critical of skybridges in the past, saying during his campaign for City Council that they are explicitly designed to keep people off the street. Martin has said he will support the skybridge because it is necessary to make the project a success.
In other City Council business Tuesday:
• City code for the Open Space Lands Program was amended to add community gardens to the list of areas that qualify for funding.
Rick Graham, director of the city's public services department, said there is strong public interest in community gardens as a type of open space.
The Open Space Advisory Board recently awarded $125,000 in matching funds to Wasatch Community Gardens, allowing the nonprofit group to purchase the 4th East Garden that it has been leasing for more than 25 years.The board determined that the community garden qualified as a small neighborhood park. Adding community gardens to the code removes future questions about whether such areas qualify for the program, Graham said.
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