RELIGION

Church opens new meetinghouse, office tower in downtown Salt Lake City

Apr 8, 2022, 11:14 AM | Updated: 8:33 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has opened a new building that will serve as a local meetinghouse and commercial office building just one block away from Temple Square.

Church officials said the structure was built to accommodate a growing number of residential complexes in the downtown area and promote a more walkable community.

“The idea came to have a joint-use space and build an office tower and combine that with a meetinghouse, and it’s a very economical way to do it,” said Bishop L. Todd Budge of the Church’s Presiding Bishopric, which oversees the construction of places of worship for the global faith.

The new 39,000-square-foot, four-story meetinghouse is at the base of the new 95 State Office Tower, which is Salt Lake City’s third-tallest tower at 395 feet.

“It’s a spectacular location,” said Elder Kevin W. Pearson, president of the Utah Area for the Church. “The cost of land and development in urban settings is just outrageously expensive. This becomes an economical way to add a meetinghouse facility which would otherwise not make sense.”

“This is a bit of an oasis, a bit of a sanctuary within a busy city,” said Ashley Powell, president and CEO of Property Reserve — the company that built the building and is now leasing the space for the commercial building next to it, which is owned by the Church.

The meetinghouse has two chapels, each with a capacity of 500 people, and it will host six wards or congregations. Church officials said two of those wards are for young single adults.

Bishop Alin Spannaus, who oversees one of the young single adult congregations, is very excited about the new meetinghouse.

“I’m just in awe. It’s fantastic,” he said. “Eighty percent of [the young single adults] attend Ensign College, so they will live in the area. So, this is perfect.”

The 25-story commercial office tower has over 500,000 square feet of rentable space, an 11,000-square-foot fitness center and a fifth-floor terrace.

Officials said the unique development in Utah’s capital city models some of the Church’s other urban meetinghouses around the world.

“New York, London, Brussels and Alexandria, Virginia, are all cities that are expensive and real estate is difficult to acquire. And so, we’ve been able to do these types of joint-use facilities to make it a much more economical proposition,” Bishop Budge explained. “Having the office tower provides a source of revenue to pay for the meetinghouse. And so, we’re trying to be wise stewards of these sacred resources that the Lord has blessed us with.”

The tower and meetinghouse were developed by City Creek Reserve, a real estate investment affiliate of the Church. Okland Construction was the general contractor. Church tithes were not used to construct the office tower.

Next to the meetinghouse is a steeple, which faces Social Hall Avenue, once the location for Latter-day Saint pioneers to gather for social events. The original Social Hall structure was built in 1852 under the direction of President Brigham Young.

“This downtown block has always really been a place of gathering, a place of community,” said Emily Utt, curator of the Church History Department. “It’s kind of exciting that there’s now a new building almost on the exact same site that is a place of gathering.”

A memorial with remnants of the original structure is encased in an underground tunnel entrance to the buildings in Salt Lake City, Utah. (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

“The original Social Hall remained a place of social events until 1922. A century later, the location will be a gathering place for today’s urban Latter-day Saints,” officials said. “Church leaders have named the place of worship as the Social Hall Avenue Meetinghouse, located at 110 East Social Hall Avenue.”

Congregations can park in existing Social Hall Avenue garages, with special needs parking available on the Harmons roof parking structure.

A public open house will be held at the Church meetinghouse on Saturday from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. The dedication is scheduled for Sunday and will be conducted by Elder Kevin W. Pearson, Utah Area president.

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Church opens new meetinghouse, office tower in downtown Salt Lake City