Salt Lake City’s new 26-story convention hotel to begin construction soon

(Renderings courtesy of Portman Architects) Rendition of the new convention center hotel to be built at the northwest corner of 200 South and West Temple in Salt Lake City, adjacent to the Salt Palace Convention Center. The 26-story hotel, to be called Hyatt Regency Salt Lake City, will have 700 rooms and 60,000 square feet of meeting space and will be built into the existing Salt Palace for “seamless access.”

Salt Lake County officials and developer Portman Holdings said work will begin next Friday on a long-sought 26-story convention center hotel downtown.

The new 700-room tower is going up at the northwest corner of 200 South and West Temple in Utah’s capital and will be operated by Hyatt Hotels, they said.

The $377 million skyscraper — one of a half-dozen new high-rises now being pursued in the city’s central business district — will be called the Hyatt Regency Salt Lake City.

“This convention center hotel will change the urban landscape of Salt Lake City and help strengthen the local economy,” Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson said as officials announced the Jan. 10 groundbreaking.

Ambrish Baisiwala, CEO of Atlanta-based Portman Holdings, said in a statement the real estate development firm was “delighted” to have complete financing for the project and to start construction, which is expected to be done in September 2022.

The news comes after nearly a decade of work by elected officials and business leaders to entice the construction of a sizable hotel in Utah’s urban core, believing that its large number of rooms and spacious meeting places will solidify the city as a convention destination.

(Photo courtesy of Salt Lake City) The new Salt Lake City convention center hotel would be located at the northwest corner of 200 South and West Temple, built into the existing Salt Palace Convention Center.

According to details and renderings released this week, the southern end of the glass and textured aluminum tower that Portman plans to build will have a striking curved exterior, rising above a substantial lobby facing 200 South.

Salt Lake City tweaked its zoning ordinances about two years ago to allow high-rises up to 375 feet tall in that part of the city’s central business district, in anticipation of the hotel project.

The new tower is expected to offer nearly 60,000 square feet of meeting spaces, including a grand ballroom, a lobby bar, first- and sixth-floor restaurants and an outdoor terrace with a pool, garden and other amenities.

But plans have apparently been scrapped for the hotel to also feature two immense street-facing digital displays on either side of the lobby along 200 South, as Portman had previously indicated.

Those screens — reminiscent of huge displays in the lobby of 111 Main and on the clock tower at The Gateway shopping center — were part of renderings of the hotel released in late 2018 but are not included in the latest hotel images from Portman.

(Photo courtesy of John Portman & Associates, via Salt Lake City) An initial rendition released in 2019 of the street view of the new Hyatt Regency Salt Lake City convention center hotel, to be built at the northwest corner of 200 South and West Temple, adjacent to the Salt Palace Convention Center. In this rendering, the hotel features two digital screen arrays projecting images toward 200 South that are not part of subsequent drawings of the hotel.

Officials with Portman said those changes to the building’s lower facade were required by Salt Lake City’s planning department, as part of advanced design work on the project.

The Hyatt Regency Salt Lake City will rise above and be fully connected to the Salt Lake Palace Convention Center for what county officials said would be “seamless access to convention attendees staying at the hotel or using its offerings.”

Hyatt Hotels, based in Chicago, operates nearly 770 hotels worldwide, including nine in Utah.

After extensive negotiations behind the scenes, Utah and Salt Lake County officials voted in late 2018 to approve up to $75 million in post-performance tax rebates for Portman Holdings and its partner in the project, Ivins-based DDRM, in exchange for building the new hotel.

That followed the 2015 collapse of prior talks between the county and Dallas-based Omni Hotels & Resorts to construct the tower, after the parties failed to agree on key parts of the public financing package.

The incentives approved in November 2018 involve state sales- and property-tax rebates to be given out once the hotel is up and running, including conveying the county-owned parcel of land beneath the hotel site to Portman and its partners.

A county official said $54.7 million of the hotel’s $377 million price tag was being financed through a new program that lets commercial building owners borrow money long-term for energy-efficient projects and improvements.

Known as C-PACE, the program, authorized in 2013 by the Utah Legislature, then lets the borrower pay those funds back over time through a kind of self-imposed property tax assessment.

County spokesman Gabe Moreno said the C-PACE loan would have no impact on other taxpayers.