Delta Center renovations could begin next year. Here’s what some of Smith’s plans look like

Jun 11, 2024, 8:20 PM | Updated: 8:36 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Construction to remodel the Delta Center could begin as early as April 2025, Smith Entertainment Group officials said Tuesday as they updated Salt Lake City leaders on the plans for a proposed “sports, entertainment, culture and convention center” surrounding the arena.

The expansion would be carried out over multiple years, but the timeline of the remainder of the company’s plans — a hotel, housing and new walkable plaza with a jumbotron — remains unclear as negotiations between the two sides continue.

“The timeline for everything else would be determined in coordination with both the city and county. There are a lot of factors that go into all of that,” said Smith Entertainment Group executive Mike Maughan.

Maughan offered a few new details to the Salt Lake City Council during an hourlong follow-up discussion, including new renderings that show what types of overhauls Smith Entertainment Group would like to see directly east of the Delta Center as a part of the massive plan.

The renderings show that the Delta Center would be reconfigured with an expansion jetting out toward its northeast edge. New buildings would be constructed on its eastern corners, replacing its northeast and southeast plazas. The expansion would move the building close to where 300 West exists, but that would be tunneled underground.

A parking garage would be built on the arena’s southwest corner.

The Salt Palace Convention Center would be drastically remodeled to make way for a new hotel and at least one new residential tower. A walkable plaza that links the Delta Center to buildings like Abravanel Hall are also included, according to a draft design released on Tuesday. The towers’ estimated heights are to be determined.

This would allow for more pedestrian flow between the Delta Center and buildings along West Temple, which links up with City Creek Center and possibly the western edge of Salt Lake City’s proposed Main Street promenade.

Abravanel Hall and Utah Museum of Contemporary Art are listed as “Phase 2” to account for options that Salt Lake County is considering for the buildings, Maughan said.

Maughan revealed a few new details to KSL-TV before Tuesday’s meeting. While the company’s proposed zoning changes that the company asked for include making heliports “permitted” uses, Maughan also said those are not a part of the discussion.

He said last month that the company will honor Salt Lake County’s decision on existing properties in the project zone, like Abravanel Hall and the Utah Museum of Contemporary Arts.

Yet a good portion of Tuesday’s informational meeting turned to questions and concerns about what is not included in Smith’s current plans.

Councilman Darin Mano said he believes the walkable pathway is “far better” than the space that the Salt Palace takes up downtown, but he and his colleagues said they’d like to see certain amenities included, such as more green space, affordable housing and daily programming and activities so downtown remains active beyond game day.

Economic impacts

Natalie Gouchnour, director of the University of Utah Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute, accompanied Maughan during the meeting. She explained that cities require constant investments to avoid falling apart and to prevent other cities from snagging businesses away. She contends the project can meet those goals.

“The major impact is that you invest in the city and keep it vibrant so that people come,” she said. “When people come, it helps everybody. … You can pay more now or a lot more later.”

Public investments could include a 0.5% sales tax increase in Salt Lake City.

Gouchnour said the institute projects Salt Lake City residents will ultimately end up paying 20-25% of the tax revenue, while the bulk is picked up by instate and out-of-state visitors and businesses. It also projects it will cost $120-150 per household annually, although big-time consumers could end up paying hundreds of dollars per year.

Salt Lake City Council Chairwoman Victoria Petro said she believes the project can be “catalytic” for downtown businesses and walkability, but she said she asked that the project include well-paying jobs and ways to reduce city transportation gaps.

She added that the city doesn’t take a proposed 0.5% sales tax increase lightly.

“This doesn’t work unless Salt Lakers are able to enjoy the city that they’ve built that you and I get to enjoy,” Petro said. “For me, that’s the inflection point.”

Those remarks came before a second public hearing on the matter Tuesday evening. It’s unclear if the City Council will hold more public hearings before its Sept. 1 deadline to reach a deal with Smith Entertainment Group, as outlined in the bill that created a downtown reinvestment zone surrounding the Delta Center.

This story will be updated.

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Delta Center renovations could begin next year. Here’s what some of Smith’s plans look like