Salt Lake City’s new luxury hotel will boost economy, officials say

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Dignitaries and guests turn over a shovel of dirt during the ground breaking ceremony for the new Hyatt Regency Salt Lake City Hotel, at the Salt Palace Convention Center, Friday, Jan. 10, 2020.

In terms of moves likely to benefit Utah’s economy, the groundbreaking Friday for a new convention center hotel in downtown Salt Lake City was a big one.

More than 200 government, business and construction-industry officials wedged into a corner of the Salt Palace Convention Center to mark the start of work on the $377 million skyscraper, to be known as the Hyatt Regency Salt Lake City.

(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."

The 700-room luxury hotel will rise some 25 stories above the intersection of West Temple and 200 South, built directly above and tightly integrated into that southeast corner of the Salt Palace, which first opened at that downtown locale in 1969.

To be built by Portman Holdings and DDRM, the dramatic rectangular building with a curved tower at its south end and an exterior dominated by glass and metal is scheduled to be completed by October 2022.

And with its 23,138 square foot Regency Ballroom, several other meeting spaces, outdoor event terrace and other features — as well as being tied into the convention center — the hotel is expected to significantly lift the state’s ability to draw more and larger convention gatherings to the capital city.

“You cannot overstate the impact that this new hotel convention center will have on the state of Utah,” said Ben Hart with Gov. Gary Herbert’s Office of Economic Development.

The project’s potential gains for the state’s economy in coming years are being projected in the billions, based in part on estimates that the average convention-goer spends some $1,000 in their destination city.

Taylor Vriens with Visit Salt Lake said the city’s businesses and even competing hotels would also benefit, through new visitors and additional bookings once the convention center hotel is full.

Between now and then, construction work alone will involve nearly $150 million in building contracts and some 1.1 million worker hours. The hotel’s future operation will also mean hundreds of additional jobs, officials said.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Guests attend the ground breaking ceremony for the new Hyatt Regency Salt Lake City Hotel, at the Salt Palace Convention Center, Friday, Jan. 10, 2020.

Thirteen speakers rose to praise those involved in more than 10 years of work that went into attracting Portman and DDRM to build in Salt Lake City. More than 100 officials were thanked by name, including a host of city, county and state elected leaders, tourism boosters at Visit Salt Lake, financiers, economic-development experts and more.

Several singled out Deputy County Mayor Erin Litvak, who has lead the county’s negotiations on the project of late.

One official said talks on the hotel began as far back as 1996, with efforts by prominent real estate broker and downtown advocate Vasilios Priskos, who died in 2017.

“This project did take a village,” added Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson.

With state backing, the county is also putting up nearly $75 million in post-performance tax rebates for Portman Holdings and DDRM, in exchange for building the facility. Chicago-based Hyatt Hotels, announced as the hotel’s operator earlier this month, runs nearly 770 hotels worldwide, including nine in Utah.