SALT LAKE CITY — Demonstrating its irrevocable commitment to Salt Lake City, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced today plans to construct new higher education facilities adjoining its world headquarters here. Additionally, the Church announced that it will invest hundreds of millions of business-generated dollars in redevelopment of downtown commercial properties it owns.
Presiding Bishop H. David Burton told journalists gathered at a news conference in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building that the Church has begun planning for construction of new buildings that will accommodate an expanded Salt Lake Center of Brigham Young University (BYU), as well as a new campus for LDS Business College.
Facilities for both educational institutions will be built on Blocks 85 and 86 in downtown Salt Lake City. Block 85, situated between North Temple and South Temple streets and 200 West and 300 West, was the site of the medals plaza for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. Block 86 is located immediately east of Block 85, placing this new education campus adjacent to the west side of the Church’s world headquarters complex which includes Temple Square.
A new higher education campus on Blocks 85 and 86 will solve problems for both institutions which have been grappling with overcrowding and inadequate, aging premises. Since both LDS Business College and the BYU Salt Lake Center serve largely commuter student bodies, Blocks 85 and 86 are ideal locations. Students coming to class will be able to conveniently access the campus using the new intermodal transportation hub, the Trax light-rail that runs down South Temple Street or nearby I-15 entrance and exit ramps. People using these educational facilities will add to the vitality and rejuvenation of downtown.
The west end of South Temple “is a vital stretch of real estate that provides key linkage between the downtown malls at ZCMI-Crossroads and the Gateway,” explained Bishop Burton. “We have felt for some time that South Temple can be one of the grand boulevards of our city. That cannot come to pass if it ends in two blocks of empty asphalt.”
Projected construction and completion dates for the new education campus will not be available until Church planners and architects have completed more studies on the site.
Bishop Burton also unveiled preliminary conceptual plans for the redevelopment of ZCMI Center and Crossroads Plaza, two downtown shopping malls that the Church owns. Joined by representatives of The Taubman Company and AEW Capital Management, preeminent retail analysts, developers and managers, Bishop Burton explained that hundreds of millions of business-generated funds will be used to renovate and upgrade the city center malls and nearby properties. Tithing funds of the Church will not be used for this commercial investment.
This major redesign and reconstruction will take several years to reach full completion, but phased redevelopment is expected to begin in 2004. Planners are taking great pains to minimize business interruptions during construction.
New residential development is a significant additional element of the plans for both downtown blocks where the malls are located, as well as the expansion of Class A office space.
“I want to make it clear that we are irrevocably committed to the economic future of this city, and to creating a vibrant and beautiful place. It needs to be a place not only where people can live and work, but one that is a model for communities across our nation,” said Bishop Burton.
“This city is at a defining moment in its history,” added Bishop Burton. “We want to spell out in the clearest possible terms our profound and irrevocable commitment to the health and well being of this city, for the benefit of all its people, not just those of our faith.”