Zions Bank breaks ground on Midvale campus, unveils scholarship gift

Zions Bank marked a groundbreaking Wednesday for its new tech campus in Midvale with a sizable donation to scholarships for minority students.

Officials with the regional bank headquartered in Salt Lake City announced in late May that it would build a 400,000 square-foot facility at the reclaimed former Sharon Steel mill site along the banks of the Jordan River.

Zions executives and faith, business and government leaders launched construction with a ceremonial turning of shovels in what will be part of a new 200-acre development near Bingham Junction Boulevard in Midvale.

The former ore-smelting center, housed where soils were tainted with toxic heavy metals for decades, was once a Superfund site but has since been cleared by the EPA for residential and commercial development.

In addition to the campus to be completed in 2022 for up to 2,000 Zions Bank employees, the wider so-called View 78 project by Salt Lake City-based Gardner Co. will include offices, retail outlets and up to 3,500 residential units.

Christian Gardner, CEO of the project’s lead developer, said that in addition to building the Zions facility to a LEED Platinum environmental standard, the center will restore natural habitat along the river corridor while also producing 75% of the electricity it uses with solar panels.

“This project is a pivotal chapter in a great reclamation story,” Gardner said.

He said the project’s workplaces had been reimagined to address social distancing and other pandemic-related concerns such as improved indoor air filtration and “an abundance of outdoor spaces to relax and recreate.”

Several officials said that with its focus on high-tech innovation in the finance sector, the new Zions Technology Center should help push Utah’s enclave of high-tech companies known as Silicon Slopes from Point of the Mountain further north.

Gov. Gary Herbert and Midvale Mayor Robert Hale praised the development as a sign that Zions Bank’s presence in Utah has been integral to its growth in recent years.

Zions Chairman and CEO Harris Simmons said the bank’s donation to an education fund overseen by the retired Rev. France Davis reflected its determination “to give a boost to people of color, women, to those in the LGBTQ community, military veterans and those with physical disabled” in its recruitment and hiring.

Simmons said the cash would fund scholarships for Black students interested in pursuing college degrees in science, technology, engineering and math.

Davis, who retired in December after 45 years as a community activist and pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Salt Lake City, welcomed the gift and thanked those “who have shared the dream.”

“We believe good education will be the key,” Davis said, “to bringing about any kind of positive change that we’re going to make.”