Making the Union Pacific Depot a landmark hotel may restore the vibrancy that it once enjoyed as a rail palace. However, masking its west façade behind an oppressive box of a building would destroy the depot’s distinctive place on the city’s skyline.
While Salt Lake City should be commended for preserving its two historic train stations, it has missed opportunities to restore them as modern transportation centers. City planners could have maintained Amtrak passenger service at either of the depots, despite the required backing maneuvers, as Denver and Los Angeles have done. Gateway developers could have made the Union Pacific Depot a transit hub, as San Diego did with its Santa Fe Depot. At least FrontRunner stops within visual range of the two iconic stations. If the developer’s proposal goes forward, we will lose one of those historic and aesthetic vistas.
I urge the city planning commission and the historic landmark commission to deny the developer’s request to waive the prudent height restrictions on Gateway development and demand a more inspiring design for the guest room structure. An architectural landmark deserves landmark architecture that preserves the historic profile of the Union Pacific Depot and makes the envisioned hotel a memorable destination.
John Newman, Sandy