SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Looking over the capital city from the west, it’s easy to see the Church Office Building for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints standing out against the skyline.
This image feeds into the legend of the building.
“For decades, it was believed the Church Office Building could not be surpassed in height, which, of course, was a myth,” said Brandon Fugal, the chairman for Colliers International, which is the largest commercial real estate firm in Utah.
Fugal’s office provides a stunning, up-close view of downtown Salt Lake City, including the Church Office Building.
“There is no law or code that prohibits building higher than the Church Office Building,” said Fugal.
In fact, the Church Office Building isn’t the tallest building in Salt Lake City.
That distinction goes to the Wells Fargo Center built in the ’90s on Main Street. It stands 422 feet tall, compared to the Church Office Building at 420 feet.
“The Church Office Building is at a higher topography,” Fugal said. “It is on a more elevated site. From the north to the south, we see some significant grade change or drop, and that creates the perception, of course, that the building is taller and more prominent.”
Even that is about to change. A new kid on the block is rising up to take the title.
“I believe Salt Lake is experiencing a renaissance,” Fugal said. “There will be a new feeling, a new electricity downtown.”
The Astra Tower going up near 200 S. State Street is a mixed-use development that will stand 450 feet tall when complete.
“[It has] 40,000 square feet of space that will house restaurants and services, not only for the residents of the Astra Tower, but for the surrounding central business district,” Fugal said.
Fugal believes the Astra will lay the foundation for a new era and change the skyline as we know it.
“New approaches to density, new approaches to land planning, I think, inspire others to take a more aggressive approach to utilizing what really is a special place compared to the rest of the country,” he said.
While some are excited about the new prospects heading downtown, some residents view them with mixed emotions.
“It’s great that you don’t have to walk as far,” said Salt Lake City resident Amber. “It’s very conveniently located. It’s great. But it feels more congested also at the same time. So, I guess with any building, construction downtown there is good and bad,”
Fugal says what’s happening here is the envy of other markets.
“The number one economic climate in the United States is something that we can really be proud of,” Fugal said.
And he says even though it’s not the tallest building, it will always have its place.
“The Church Office Building will forever be a prominent feature on our skyline,” Fugal said. “That coupled with the redevelopment of the Salt Lake Temple block and the property surrounding the Church Office Building over the course of the next year or two will redefine Salt Lake that much more for visitors.”
Fugal says the Astra should be opening up to residents and others in the next 12 to 18 months.