Monday, October 16, 2006

LDS Church: First Security Building Must Go

More concerning the new SLC downtown:

LDS Church: First Security Building Must Go

SALT LAKE CITY Amid cries for its preservation, the LDS church says a historic building cannot be incorporated into the church’s plan to renovate several downtown blocks.

The historic First Security building’s design makes it difficult to modernize and is not suitable for office or residential use, church spokesman Dale Bills said Wednesday.

“Architects, engineers and planners on our redevelopment team have spent 24 months carefully evaluating all options for this building,” Bills said. “Even after a seismic retrofit costing tens of millions of dollars, the building still could not adequately accommodate office or residential tenants in a competitive downtown marketplace. The high costs of restoration could not be recouped.”

On Oct. 3, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced its plans to renovate several downtown blocks it owns into the City Creek Center – a development with office, residential, retail and open space.

As part of the $1 billion plan, the church said some downtown landmarks including the building, also known as the Deseret Building, would have to go.

Kirk Huffaker of the Utah Heritage Foundation acknowledged the obstacles the church says stand in the way of preserving the building, but said he hopes some agreement can be reached to spare it.

Huffaker said his group is studying how buildings nationwide have overcome functionality issues and expects to offer alternatives to demolition before the Planning Commission and church planners.

City permits authorizing the demolition of a building do not consider a building’s historic status unless it is on the city’s historic registry. The First Security building is not.

The building has stood at the corner of 100 South and Main Street in Salt Lake City since 1919.

Church officials have previously said they might be able to save just the building’s facade, which is adorned with lions’ heads, elaborate Indian and buffalo head medallions and classical columns.

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