Over a century ago, a mining magnate named Samuel Newhouse envisioned the area at Exchange Place in downtown Salt Lake City as a mini-Wall Street that would house the financial district of Utah's capital city complete with what was billed as one of the city's first "skyscrapers."
Today, his vision is being restored to its former glory by local developers who see the downtown central business district as a place on the cusp of major growth.
The Boston Building is celebrating its 100th anniversary with the completion of a $10 million renovation that will provide more than 107,000 square feet of high-end office space in the historic location at Nine Exchange Place. Its twin counterpart, the Newhouse Building, is located directly across from the Boston Building and has undergone a less-extensive renovation.
Designed by Chicago and New York architect Henry Ives Cobb, construction on the 11-story building was started in 1907 and finished in 1909, according to Eric Smith, first vice president with listing agent CB Richard Ellis.
"We have done everything we can to bring it back to its original design as much as possible," said Ken Shields, asset manager for the building's owner, Chicago-based developer Hamilton Partners. He said that, when completed, much of the detail from the original interior and exterior finishes will be maintained, including the classic ornate facade, woodwork, the marble and terrazzo stairs and flooring, and even some of the original panes of glass in the exterior windows.
In addition, the lobby walls will showcase the hand-crafted mosaic tiles that extend from floor to ceiling along the staircase from the basement to the second floor, Smith said.
Shields said every effort was made to maintain the original structural integrity and decor of the building, along with some added modern amenities.
"All of the material that we could recycle was recycled, both for conservation and to preserve the historic nature of the building," he said. "All the lighting will be high-efficiency lighting, the ventilation system is high-efficiency, so the building should have considerably lower energy consumption."
He noted that the building also has been retrofitted with a sprinkler system and other modern features to enhance the overall safety of the property.
The renovation project is scheduled for completion in July and occupancy by August, Smith said. He said the potential tenant list likely would include law firms, public relations firms and possibly some accounting and creative design companies.
Smith said the location between 300 South and 400 South and between Main and State streets allows for convenient access to courthouses, along with other downtown amenities like restaurants and shopping.
Hamilton Partners is also owner of the 222 S. Main project currently under construction. The 22-story office tower will be the first new high-rise built downtown since 1998.
Smith said that, with vacancy rates around 5 percent, the development of new office space in the central business district will serve to meet the demand for class A space currently lacking in downtown Salt Lake City. He said the space would lease for about $21 to $22 per square foot.
"We're really optimistic about the future of offices in downtown," Shields said."This market is going to continue to grow," Smith said. "With the development the Church (of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) is doing at City Creek with the residential condominium space, that's just going to add to companies wanting to be downtown and expansion. This downtown is just going to continue to grow and flourish."