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Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News
The Deseret/First Security Bank building on the corner of 100 South and Main Street was once slated for demolition in the $1.5 billion City Creek Center project. It was built in 1919.

The Deseret/First Security Bank building, once slated for demolition, now is being touted as an essential office structure in the LDS Church's $1.5 billion City Creek Center project.

A "major renovation" is planned for the historic building on the corner of Main and 100 South that will allow it to be utilized as office space in the downtown development, said Mark Gibbons, president of City Creek Reserve Inc., a development arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"The building will receive seismic upgrading and be an important part of our office space downtown," Gibbons said Thursday during a presentation to the Downtown Merchants Association on the progress and future plans for the 20-acre residential, retail and office development.

Plans for City Creek Center, unveiled in October 2006, initially called for the Deseret/First Security Bank building to be demolished. At the time, developers said the building couldn't be saved because its old design made it too difficult — and too costly — to modernize.

Pleas for preservation from the Utah Heritage Foundation, the Eccles Foundation and members of the public persuaded church leaders to abandon those plans after just two months.

After evaluating possible reuses for the historic building, CCRI officials recently determined it would remain an office structure, Gibbons said. The building houses the First Security branch of Wells Fargo Bank and the Eccles Foundation offices.

Kirk Huffaker, executive director of the Utah Heritage Foundation, said reusing the building for office space is consistent with its historic use.

"By choosing it as an office building, there's a great chance to preserve its historic character, certainly on the exterior, and some of the really interesting features on the interior," Huffaker said.

Built in 1919, the building was originally home to the Deseret National Bank, which early church President Brigham Young opened on the same corner in 1871. It later became the headquarters of the Eccles family's First Security Bank, which merged with Wells Fargo in 2000.

City Creek Center is a private development project of the LDS Church. The project is under construction in the three-block area bordered by West Temple, South Temple, 200 East and 100 South.

Taubman Centers Inc., CCRI's retail partner, estimates that City Creek Center will draw between 10 million and 14 million people to downtown Salt Lake City annually when it's complete in 2012.

Portions of the project — including parking structures on all three blocks, a Harmons grocery store and a new food court — are expected to be complete next year.

Parking for shopping at City Creek Center will be free "for at least an hour," Gibbons said.

"That will benefit not only our retail space but all retailers in the downtown area," he said.


E-mail: jpage@desnews.com