Originally built as a fireproof industrial warehouse in the early 1900s, the brick-and-concrete structure at 320 W. 200 South in Salt Lake City was later subdivided into small offices, with the lower floors sometimes providing refuge for vagrants.
But business owner David Utrilla sensed potential, purchasing the 33,000-square-foot structure in early 2011. Between June and December, he invested millions of dollars into renovating the four-story Keyser building that today houses his business, U.S. Translation Co., along with the Peruvian Consulate in Utah, and still has plenty of unleased space on the first and second floors.
Within a block of The Gateway mall complex and light-rail service, the building’s reclamation marks one more step in the ongoing regeneration of the city’s warehouse district.
"Everything had to be redone," Utrilla said, including ripping out an oversized boiler, old wiring, Sheetrock, carpeting, and the painstaking removal of multiple layers of paint from interior brick walls. Sandblasting was out of the question because that would end the building’s chances of landing on the National Historic Register.
Thanks to low-interest Small Business Administration loans and redevelopment financing from Salt Lake City, Utrilla said he had to put only 15 percent down from his pocket. Even so, total costs rose higher than anticipated.
"There’s a risk to renovate something that is old," Utrilla said of the building that’s nestled between the Westgate Lofts and the Westgate Business Center. "There are a lot of surprises."
Justin Lyons of Salt Lake City-based Lloyd Architects served as project manager for the Keyser renovation.
"It had been converted into offices and was in decline," Lyons said. After gutting and then reconfiguring the building’s interior, the end result was "a clear and open democratic space."
Along one third-level brick wall, restored letters read "FURNITURE PACKED AT CUT RATES," hinting at the building’s prior use. South-facing mirrored windows were replaced with energy-efficient designs reminiscent of the 1920s. A few interior walls were painted in vibrant shades just shy of chartreuse, mustard yellow and tomato red. Concrete floors were stained terracotta, and interior trim painted a steely blue-gray.
"In some ways its current and trendy," Lyons said. "Ultimately people respond to that reclaimed reuse of a solid historic space."
The renovation also needed to comply with fire standards, as well as with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Crews from Salt Lake City-based Evergreene Construction spent six months accomplishing that task, which included renovating the old freight elevator for employee use and cutting through thick concrete floors to install a smaller elevator for clients.
Utrilla, a native of Peru, moved to Utah in the mid-1990s and earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Management and International Business from Weber State University.
As a class project, Utrilla identified the need for all kinds of written materials, technical and otherwise, to be translated into multiple languages, sparking his now-flourishing business. For two years running, Inc. magazine has named U.S. Translation to its list of fastest-growing, privately held companies.
As a student, Utrilla’s first job was translating a hefty technical manual for JBT AeroTech, an Ogden company that manufactures airport equipment, said Niki Tonks, U.S. Translation’s marketing director.
"He said if you don’t like it, you don’t pay," Tonks said. "They took a risk, liked it and have been one of our best clients."
In December, U.S. Translation moved from its 2,400-square-foot South Ogden site into its third-floor, former-warehouse digs in Salt Lake City.
"By moving here, it allows us to hire more employees, find the right talent and also help us with employee retention," Utrilla said. "We’re also closer to our clients and can attract new ones."
U.S. Translation employs 15 people at its Salt Lake City site, but also contracts with 2,600 certified linguists around the world who translate everything from business cards to massive technical manuals.
Utrilla, 41, also serves as the Peruvian Consul, a volunteer position appointed by Peru’s president and confirmed by the U.S. Secretary of State.
Utah’s offices for the Peruvian Consulate occupy the basement floor of the Keyser building, where Utrilla and five student interns from the University of Utah and Brigham Young University serve the needs of Utah’s second-largest immigrant community from 1:30 to 6:30 p.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
An estimated 25,000 Peruvians live in Utah, Utrilla said, so those afternoon time slots are filled by appointment only.Next Page >
Copyright 2013 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.