PROVO — Upscale apartments aren’t unique in Provo, but Greg Soter’s are.
The old LDS Fourth Ward Chapel on 100 West and 400 North is now the home of 15 uniquely different high-end one-bedroom units.
For more than two years Soter drove past the building with big dreams of one day doing something amazing with the historic edifice. He was worried it would fall into decay before he could save it.
It has taken nearly four years of hard work, negotiating on city fees, and Soter taking six months off to recover from injuries sustained in an airplane crash, but the building is done. And the results are exactly what Soter wanted.
According to historic records, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints started building the church in 1915, but stopped because of World War I. The saints met in the basement. After the war they continued building and finally dedicated it in 1925. Church President Heber J. Grant came from Salt Lake City to dedicate the building.
The historical marker for the building says they even had door prizes at the dedication. They included a lifetime Schaeffer Pen set, a 1925 Chevrolet car and a live bull.
What Soter didn’t know is that he would be finding all kinds of trinkets, one large granite block, and a special room in one of the towers.
The room, now part of one of the units, was a sacred place where members of the church in good standing performed special prayers usually reserved for LDS temples. With no nearby temples, the saints were given permission to do so in the ward building. Soter said there was even a type of locker room with benches where they changed into white clothing, as is customary with LDS temples.
The Old Chapel Apartments consist of single-bedroom units ranging from 500 to 1,100 square feet and feature loft bedrooms, high ceilings and individual laundry facilities. The cost ranges from $900 to $1,600 per month for rent, utilities not included.
“We wanted to preserve the exterior of the building, it deserves it,” Soter said. “We wanted to put in first class apartments with a Manhattan or San Francisco cool styling.”
Every unit has granite counter tops, stainless steel appliances, glass cook tops and large closets. Each unit is also unique in layout and features some nuance of the old church.
The old brick that is exposed in the units were originally covered with plaster. “It took $30,000 just to expose that brick,” Soter said. “There’s a whole bunch of little things that draw up the costs, like goose-necked faucets and tiled backdrops.”
It’s the historic feel that has lured most of the current renters. Five of the 15 units have been rented with little advertising so far.
Just out the door, on the landing, from one of the units is a granite block imbedded in the brick wall. What looks like a sandstone lid sits on top of it, surrounded with the old, decorative brick.
Soter said that according to Emily Utt, LDS Church Historic Sites Curator, it is most likely a time capsule or corner stone from the original building.
Soter said that during the construction they found children’s toys, old church donations slips, a doll dress and other items. He said he hopes to make shadow boxes for the items and hang them throughout the adjoining halls in the building.
“Every unit is different,” Soter said. “They’re not what people are expecting in Utah Valley.”
When the LDS church sold the building, the first deed with the new owner required them to agree to not have loud parties, alcohols, smoking, etc. in the building.
“It was kind of charming,” Soter said. “My contracts also say no alcohol, drugs, smoking or pets.”
Soter said that he is not BYU approved housing, and that he is more interested in the professors living there than the students.
The location and walkability — just three blocks from Provo’s Center Street, a couple blocks from the Rec Center and just across the street from Smith’s grocery store — makes the Old Chapel Apartments very desirable.
Soter said it will be just a half a block from the Bus Rapid Transit stop, and he is excited to use that in selling the units.
For more information about the apartments, contact Soter at (801) 836-3894.