Winter Games spur development in Salt Lake City

November 01, 2001 |

Hosting the Olympic Games can fundamentally change the built environment of a city. Besides construction of the required sports, housing and ceremony facilities for the games, new hotel, retail and entertainment developments spring up as developers look to cash in on the millions of visitors that will flock to the city to watch the games. This is certainly the case in Salt Lake City, as the city gears up to host the 2002 Winter Olympics, Feb. 8-24, and an estimated 9 million tourists.

Headlining the commercial developments is The Gateway, a $375 million, 3.2 million-sq.-ft. urban mixed-use project on the western edge of downtown Salt Lake City that opened Nov. 1. The massive project consists of 675,000 square feet of retail space, 350,000 square feet of office space, 64,200 square feet of restaurants, 90,000 square feet of cultural facilities and 482 residential units integrated on a three-city-block, 30-acre site that was formerly Union Pacific's railway yard.

Developed by Salt Lake City-based The Boyer Co. and master planned by Los Angeles-based The Jerde Partnership International, the project is the first phase of a multiyear plan to develop 650 acres in the greater Salt Lake City area. The Gateway is adjacent to the 20,000-seat Delta Center arena and a light-rail train station, which is part of the new 15-mile Transit Express (TRAX) light-rail system that runs through Salt Lake valley and downtown.

Jon A. Jerde, principal of The Jerde Partnership, says The Gateway is designed to evoke the spirit of a town in the historic West and utilizes the same materials inherent with the city's existing buildings, including brick, sandstone and concrete. He expects the project to become "a communal gathering and celebration place for participants, residents and visiting guests of the Winter Games." Moreover, he says many of the journalists who cover the Olympics will be housed in the development's residences.

The city's latest hotel development is the 1.7 million-sq.-ft., 775-room The Grand America hotel and convention center, which was completed in March. Designed by Atlanta-based Smallwood, Reynolds, Stewart, Stewart & Associates Inc., the 24-story tower was built specifically for the Olympics and is part of the city's commitment to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to create luxury accommodations, according to Hans Turnovszky, COO of The Grand America Hotel.

Other hotels recently completed include the 225-room, boutique-style Hotel Monaco Salt Lake City, which opened its doors in July 1999, and the 12-story, 370-room Marriott at Gallivan Plaza, which was completed in August 2000.

Olympic venues

Although many existing facilities will be utilized for the Olympics — including the 20,000-seat Delta Center basketball arena, which will host figure skating and short-track speed skating competitions — several new sporting venues were constructed. Most not-able is the $28 million Utah Olympic Oval for long-track speed skating, completed this March. Designed by Gillies Stransky Brems Smith Architects, Salt Lake City, the building's cable-suspended roof eliminates massive trusses that would be necessary to support the structure. It contains a 400-meter enclosed oval with two full-sized hockey sheets, a weight room, a sports medicine room, 15 locker rooms, a pro shop, concessions and a skate rental area. The facility is one of only six enclosed ovals in the world and is expected to hold 7,000 people.

Housing for the 4,000 Olympic athletes, called Olympic Village, will be provided by the University of Utah, which recently developed 62 acres at the Historic Fort Douglas Army Reserve (est. 1862), adjacent to the campus, into 950,000 square feet of student housing. Architectural Design West Inc., Salt Lake City, designed and master-planned the $120 million project in conjunction with Norfolk, Va.-based Hanbury Evans Newill Vlattas & Co. (HENV). According to Jane Wright of HENV, the intent of the project was to weave six new "neighborhoods" into the Fort without competing with the older buildings.

To accommodate the estimated 9,000 press and broadcast media that will cover the Winter Olympics, the Salt Palace Convention Center received a $40 million, 165,-000-sq.-ft. expansion in 2000. The convention center, which underwent a $85 million expansion in 1996, was enlarged to a total of 370,000 square feet, this time led by Salt Lake City-based MHTN Architects.

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