Courtesy LDS Church
The costs of City Creek retail and residential space have not been announced yet.

Downtown is going upscale, with the construction of the $1.5 billion mixed-use City Creek Center and new office towers at The Gateway and at 222 S. Main.

Residents and businesses will have to pay more for the new digs, as the days of $225,000 condominiums and office space averaging $21.21 per square foot will soon be gone.

At a Downtown Economic Forum on Wednesday, an event hosted by the Salt Lake Chamber's Downtown Alliance, 300 business and government leaders heard updates on the Central Business District, which Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker called "the financial, the religious and the community center for our state."

Since 2005, downtown has lost 600,000 square feet of office space, with the demolition of the Key Bank Tower for the LDS Church's City Creek Center and the conversion of almost half of the Triad Center from office to educational space for Brigham Young University.

Downtown now counts about 12.7 million square feet of office space, said Jim Wood, an economist with the University of Utah's Bureau of Bureau of Economic and Business Research.

Two new office buildings will fill most of the gap. The Gateway is designing its sixth office tower, to be completed in 2009, with 100,000 square feet of office space. And Chicago-based Hamilton Partners is building a 22-story skyscraper at 222 S. Main with 460,000 square feet of office space, also scheduled to be finished in 2009.

"We'll be in the range of $32 to $35 a square foot," said Bruce Bingham of Hamilton Partners.

That's as much as 65 percent higher than the downtown average of $21.21 a square foot per month, and as much as 35 percent higher than similar state-of-the-art "Class A" office space, now going for $25.99 a square foot.

The prices are necessary to recoup the construction costs of copper, steel and concrete, Bingham said.

Thus far, the LDS Church has not announced the cost of its retail or residential space. But the numbers announced Wednesday caused Mark Gibbons of City Creek Reserve Inc. to joke to the audience that "we hope to see growth ... in the sense of those prices."

In the blueprints for City Creek, the LDS Church and its real-estate partners have a "place holder" for a office building. But they have no plans to build it just yet, Gibbons said Wednesday, and the church will not have any additional office space beyond the four buildings it currently owns in the area.

In Salt Lake City last year, 64,950 people worked downtown — a number that hasn't grown much from 2001, when 64,400 people worked downtown, likely because of the reconstruction. In 1990, 49,150 people worked downtown.

Downtown "is first and foremost an employment center for the state," said Wood.

The Salt Lake Chamber has envisioned different districts for the city, such as a hotel district and The Gateway District. Blocks 69 and 70 — West Temple to State Street and 100 South to 200 South — are the proposed Arts and Cultural District and the subject of a recent study by architect Prescott Muir.

"The basic premise (of the study) is growing jobs, growing the tax base," Muir said.

There is $600 million to $700 million in potential development in the two blocks, he said.

The study recommends building a hotel near the Salt Palace and a 2,400-seat performing arts theater, as well as renovating the Utah Theater and adjacent space for a film center, refurbishing the Regent Street parking garage and creating housing on Regent Street and in the Salt Lake Tribune building, vacated when the newspaper moved to The Gateway.

The 20-acre City Creek Center development will feature a glass roof with an ability to retract to let in the sunshine over retail sections, Gibbons said Wednesday. The namesake stream, City Creek, will wind through the development and splash down in man-made waterfalls. A sky bridge over Main Street will connect the two blocks of the development.

City Creek Center will contain 700 units of housing, some of which are currently under construction. The first residential tower will be finished in 2010. The entire development is expected to be completed in 2012.

Below-ground parking structures will be tall enough for a Ford Expedition with a ski rack on top, Gibbons said.

On the Web

A virtual tour of City Creek Center — the LDS Church's retail, office and residential development where the Crossroads Mall and ZCMI Center once stood — can be viewed on the Web.

To travel through conceptual images of the completed project, including the controversial skybridge over Main Street, go to:

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