Salt Lake City may see more construction for new l

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    By JARED G. JONES

    In an attempt to improve its downtown area, Salt Lake City’s Metropolitan Hall of Justice may be demolished to make room for a new library, offices and housing projects.

    Located between 200 and 300 East and 300 and 300 South, Salt Lake City, the Hall of Justice contains district courts and jail facilities, as well as offices of the Department of Public Safety.

    All of the tenants on the block will be moving within two years, leaving the Salt Lake City Public Library as the only remaining tenant.

    Court offices now contained in the Hall of Justice will be moved to the new Scott R. Matheson Courthouse on the corner of State Street and 600 South. Public safety offices will be moved to another location. Jail facilities have already been moved to the new Oxbow facility.

    Doug Dansie, a planner for Salt Lake City, said demolition is the best option for the existing buildings because of their age and previous usages. “(The existing structures) are special-purpose buildings and would be very hard to rehabilitate,” Dansie said.

    Burke Cartwright, an architect with EDA Architects in Salt Lake City, said the old buildings are not suitable to accommodate new tenants.

    “Developments for the block are open for speculation at this point,” Dansie said. “Decisions have not yet been made.”

    Dansie said Salt Lake City hired EDA as consultants for the MHJ block project. “Occasionally the city requests architectural firms to go (evaluate an area),” said Burke Cartwright of EDA.

    “In this case, (the city) wanted a master plan for the (Hall of Justice) block,” Cartwright said.

    The master plan includes a new library, housing units, underground parking and a children’s museum. In a second phase to the development, the current library would receive an addition and then be used to house city departments.

    Nancy Tessman, director of the Salt Lake City Public Library, said growth is the primary reason for needing a new library.

    “With a new building we would be able to extend the services we provide (to the community),” she said.

    Better parking, more area to increase book and audio-visual collections and access to the Internet are among items on the library’s “wish list” for the new building, Tessman said.

    “We want to make a better library for the city,” she said.

    Cartwright said he wants this development to change the feeling of the block. He said the business currently taking place on the block — court proceedings and public safety business — often does not bring the best element to the downtown area.

    With the proposed developments the Hall of Justice block would become “a bridge between residential areas and the central business district,” Cartwright said.

    EDA will present its findings and proposal for city and public approval at a public meeting Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Salt Lake City Council Chambers.

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