Utah Transit Authority
Rendering shows UTA intermodal hub expansion project. UTA seeks developers to incorporate a historic warehouse into the project.

The Utah Transit Authority is putting the brakes on demolition plans for the nearly 100-year-old warehouse north of Salt Lake City's intermodal hub.

UTA officials agreed Wednesday to hold off on razing the building on the southwest corner of 600 West and 200 South in hopes of finding a developer willing to incorporate the historic structure into expansion of the intermodal hub.

"This is great news for the city," said Helen Langan, Mayor Ralph Becker's spokeswoman.

Becker and other city officials have been working with UTA to come up

with a way to save the warehouse — the original Denver and Rio Grande freight house. Becker and members of the Salt Lake City Council want to see the building reused and its historic character preserved.

"It's a pretty unique building in terms of the kind of warehouses that you see in the district, but the site also has a long history," Councilman Soren Simonsen said. "The architecture is representative of some of that history."

UTA had been poised to tear the building down after developers showed no interest in renovating the existing structure and leasing the land from the transit authority.

UTA already had a demolition permit in hand when city officials stepped in and asked for more time to try and save the building. UTA agreed to give the city 60 days to explore options for the property, vowing not to demolish the building until after June 2.

That deadline was extended Wednesday — likely by as much as a year — when UTA officials agreed to again seek proposals from developers, this time including the warehouse in an overall expansion of the 7.4 acre intermodal hub development.

UTA also agreed to include in its request for proposals a stated preference for developments that include restoration or rehabilitation of the old warehouse.

In an effort to entice developers to take a closer look at the warehouse, Becker is proposing in his 2008-09 fiscal year budget a $500,000 contribution to a project in which the building is reused. The funds are left over from money the city loaned to UTA to build the intermodal hub, Langan said.

UTA plans to seek proposals for about six months, which gives developers time to "really sit down and look at the potential" of the site, said Chad Saley, UTA spokesman.

It's expected to take another two or three months to review the proposals, pushing back any physical changes to the site until about this time next year, Saley said.

Saving the warehouse has been a focus of the Utah Heritage Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving, protecting and promoting Utah's historic buildings.

"It's definitely a pivotal building in the Gateway district in terms of its character," said Kirk Huffaker, the foundation's executive director. "It's one of those buildings that sort of defines the history and architecture of the district."

Huffaker said there are several possible reuses for the building because it's a wide-open structure.

Mayor Becker has mentioned the warehouse as a possible site for a year-round public market, though Langan said that it's only one option.

"The first priority is see the building saved and reused," she said. "There are a lot of ideas out there (for reuse). The most important thing is to preserve the building."

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