MORMON CHURCH DOWNTOWN
Two artist renditions show the downtown area before, top, and after a redevelopment project during a news conference Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2006, in Salt Lake City. The red buildings in the top graphic will be demolished with new office buildings, stores and residences taking their place in the bottom graphic. (AP Photo/Douglas C. Pizac)

SALT LAKE CITY -- The LDS church, a major downtown property owner, announced a $1 billion-plus project Tuesday that calls for commercial, residential and retail space after the destruction of many longtime landmarks.

City Creek Center will cover 20 acres and three city blocks, between West Temple Street and 200 East, across from Temple Square and the world headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

When the wrecking balls start swinging Nov. 1, The Inn at Temple Square, Key Bank Tower, the Deseret Building and the Crossroads and ZCMI shopping malls eventually will be gone.

The revamped city blocks will have 1.9 million square feet of office space and 928,000 square feet of retail space, anchored by Nordstrom, Macy's and a yet unnamed department store, said H. David Burton, the presiding bishop of the church.

The development's two major shopping centers would be linked by a skywalk over Main Street.

"We're committed to doing this project in the right way. This can set the course for Salt Lake's downtown for generations to come," Burton told Salt Lake's City Council, before unveiling a model of the project. "The church for the last 160 years has heavily invested in Salt Lake ... this is another example of that investment."

Plans include at least 300 apartments and condominiums in four locations. To accommodate all those residents, Harmons Grocery Stores will build a full-service 55,000-square-foot store near State Street and 100 South. Housing developers may also build apartments above the store.

There would be at least six acres of open space, including fountains, ponds and a stream to replicate the south fork of City Creek, which once flowed through downtown.

Pedestrian walkways would be built along the historical paths of old city streets -- Richards, Regent and Social Hall Avenue.

The mall will be closed on Sundays, following the LDS church's practice of keeping the Sabbath sacred.

Construction is not expected to be complete until 2011.

Businesses and retail shops now operating in the area are expected to remain open until January. Some will relocate to other downtown space, Burton said.

No tax dollars, nor tithes from the 12.5 million LDS church members, will be used in construction, Burton said. The church is developing the center through its commercial real-estate arm, Property Reserve Inc.

Other partners include Michigan-based mall developer Taubman Centers Inc. and Utah-based Cowboy Partners.

Final architectural plans are expected by fall 2007, along with other project details still in development, Burton said.

Councilman Eric Jergensen said the development will be a dramatic change from the current "fortress malls" to create a seamless interaction of downtown attractions, commercial activities and adjacent neighborhoods.

"We have talked about what our downtown has needed as a council for five years, six years. As a city government we've talked about it for 10 years, as our demographics have changed," he said. "This is really sort of a 21st century solution to the problem."

The project promises to be a boon for downtown, said Lane Beattie, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce, bringing jobs and boosting the number of tourists and convention visitors to the city.

"It's extremely important to the economy and the lifeblood of Utah's future." Beattie said.

This story appeared in The Daily Herald on page A1.

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