Artspace is undertaking a new project to revitalize one of Salt Lake City’s historic but long-dormant buildings.
The nonprofit organization, which develops mixed-use projects combining affordable housing with commercial space for artists and other creative souls, will receive title to the Beehive Brick Building at 244 S. 500 West for free from the Salt Lake City Redevelopment Agency.
In exchange, Artspace will take on the sizable expense of seismically upgrading the earthquake-vulnerable building and then renovating the structure consistent with RDA design guidelines.
When done, the three- and four-story warehouse is likely to have a half dozen studios and commercial offices on the ground floor topped by 12 to 15 residential units, said RDA project manager Jill Wilkerson-Smith.
"The seismic work alone will cost $750,000 — just to keep it standing," Artspace President Jessica Norie said Tuesday after the City Council, sitting as the RDA board, unanimously approved the ownership transfer.
Acquiring the structure free of charge, she added, basically represents a fair "exchange for our services to save the building."
That’s how the deal strikes Councilman Luke Garrott, whose district includes this part of downtown west of the Rio Grande Depot.
"I appreciate the staff taking the historic-preservation mandate in the Depot District seriously," he said, noting that the biggest challenge is retrofitting buildings.
"I’m willing to part with our slice of land [0.31 acre] if they’re willing to get the building back in working order," Garrott said. "It’s a good deal because we’ll keep the historic nature of the neighborhood. And Artspace has shown themselves to be a leader in historic preservation."
That’s why the RDA approached Artspace in the first place, Wilkerson-Smith said. "We saw an opportunity to build off the quality projects that Artspace has done in proximity to this project."
She was referring to seven existing projects, including renovations of the Eccles Browning Warehouse on Pierpont Avenue, the California Tire and Rubber Co. Building and an original ZCMI warehouse.
The nonprofit also bought the former Utah Barrel and Scrap site and converted the scrap metal recycling lot into Artspace Commons and Artspace Solar Gardens.
Artspace’s Norie said she relished the chance to use the Beehive Brick Building "as a model to show there is funding and financing out there to keep our history intact."
Community interest in using these buildings is there as well, she added, noting that 99 percent of Artspace’s residential and commercial space is leased.
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