Union Pacific's Salt Lake City Depot
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This page was last updated on August 31, 2019.
Built in 1909, the Union Pacific passenger depot in Salt Lake served its days well as the center of railroad passenger operations for Union Pacific and its subsidiary companies. It continued to serve passenger trains after the start of Amtrak in May 1971, continuing in that role until October 1986 when Amtrak moved it operations to the former Rio Grande depot. After Amtrak left in 1986, Union Pacific converted the space for its own use as offices and a training center. In 1988 the depot was donated to the State of Utah, which struggled to find a use for the large facility. In 1996, the state gave up and began talks with Salt Lake City and various state agencies to establish a redevelopment use for the once grand building.
Many parties were interested, but the underlying ground and surrounding space occupied by rail yards was a requirement for redevelopment, and in October 1997 after some tough negotiations, Union Pacific and city, state, and private developers came to a series of agreements that would allow redevelopment to get started. In May 1999 work began removing the tracks in the vicinity of the depot, and progress was rapid after that.
Since December 1999, Union Pacific's former Salt Lake City depot has been owned by a series of developers and management companies for the adjacent outdoor retail mall and residential and office complex known as The Gateway. The depot serves as the major east-side entrance portal to the public space known as The Gateway. The depot's main waiting room was restored to its previous glory, including the murals at each end, and the stained glass windows along the upper west wall were also repaired and cleaned. The public spaces, which includes the restrooms, were completely renovated and modernized. The north wing is now a night club, "The Depot", and the south wing was first used as a Virgin Megastore, but that closed this past July 15, 2007. It was replaced by Urban Outfitters in late November 2007, which itself left in spring 2017.
The former passenger depot's main waiting room is today known as "The Grand Hall", and is available for use by receptions and banquets. Both the north wing and the south wing are reserved for retail stores or night clubs. The area west of the depot is the entrance to the Olympic Legacy Plaza, located on the lower level and accessed by a grand stairway. The plaza features an Olympic Wall of Honor and memorial paver stones, along with the "dancing waters" of the Olympic Snowflake Fountain and a surface-running portion of City Creek.
The Historical American Buildings Survey summarized the depot's architectural significance as follows:
The "Early French Renaissance" or Chateauesque structure was built on piles because the site is believed to have been an old riverbed. The structure is of reinforced concrete with a veneer of stone from Glencoe, Wyoming on the first story and the remaining wall surfaces are of Salt Lake City pressed brick. Numerous window bays of varying types allow light into the massive structure. Exterior decorative elements include the twin front towers with cornices of galvanized iron, carved stone gargoyles, faint quoins at the building's corners, classical fascia on the entry canopy, and stained glass windows.
The station's interior is typical of railroad-related rooms of the time, with waiting rooms, baggage rooms, ticket office and administrative offices. The most impressive room features a domed ceiling rising three stories above the central waiting room. This vast room is enriched with numerous decorative features. There are two oil-oncanvas paintings at the north and south ends of the room by San Francisco artist John McQuarrie. In the painting on the south wall, Brigham Young is depicted making his famous exclamation upon first sight of the Great Salt Lake Valley - "This is the Place". The "Driving of the Golden Spike" is depicted on the north wall commemorating the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad and uniting the nation by rail. Beautiful stained glass windows on the west wall feature a series of various kinds of rail transportation. All of these magnificent artworks remain today.
September 14, 1905
The Salt Lake City Council passed an ordinance to allow OSL to build a viaduct carrying North Temple street over the OSL tracks in Salt Lake City. (Salt Lake Herald, September 15, 1905, "last night")
At the same city council meeting, OSL displayed the plans for its proposed new passenger station, which included sheds over the tracks, and a pedestrian bridge to the west side.
October 22, 1905
OSL announced a new passenger depot in Salt Lake City. This was in addition to building new freight yards north of the city, a new roundhouse, a new freight station, and a new viaduct for North Temple street. The total cost of all the projects was reported as $500,000 to $600,000. (Salt Lake Herald, October 22, 1905)
June 18, 1906
The new Salt Lake City Joint Freight House was approved on June 18, 1906. (OSL Form 12, Authority for Expenditure; research completed May 4, 1995, at Union Pacific Museum, Omaha)
OSL approved the project to build a viaduct carrying North Temple street over the OSL tracks in Salt Lake City, also on June 18, 1906.
January 13, 1907
OSL began construction of the North Temple viaduct in early 1906, at the same time as the new freight station. The new freight station was complete by January 1907 and ready for occupancy. No mention of progress on the passenger depot. (Salt Lake Herald, January 13, 1907, with photos)
OSL and SPLA&SL completed the new Union Depot at Salt Lake City. Construction was begun in November 1906, and the depot was partially occupied in 1908. (October 28, 1976 UP letter to Julian Cavalier; source cited is "Salt Lake City, Past and Present," published in 1908) Construction started on February 1908. (Historic American Building Survey, Utah State Division of History)
In 1917 Union Pacific constructed an improved freight depot at Salt Lake City, located directly west of the its passenger depot. This improvement included a 233-feet long concrete extension to the existing freight depot. In 1929 a 50-feet by 156-feet open platform was added. In 1933 improvements were added to aid the handling of fruits and other perishables. In 1947, the open platform was fully enclosed, and in 1951 a separate building was constructed to house damaged, refused and unclaimed freight. This later building was located directly across 100 South, south of the freight depot. (Union Pacific annual reports)
Union Pacific constructed umbrella sheds for the Salt Lake City passenger depot. (Union Pacific 1925 annual report)
Union Pacific installed Centralized Traffic Control between Salt Lake City and Caliente, Nevada. Included was a new building located north of the Salt Lake City passenger depot, to house the communications equipment, and personnel needed to operate the new control system and control the train movements. This building later became the South-Central District train dispatching center. (part from Union Pacific annual reports for 1947 and 1948)
Union Pacific constructed what it called the "Post Office Annex" for lease to U. S. government. (Union Pacific 1951 annual report)
Work on the new Postal Annex, also known as the Parcel Post Annex, began in mid January 1951, with completion expected in July 1951. The new one-story building was 125 feet by 224 feet, and was being built by Union Pacific, and would be leased to the U. S. Postal Service. (Deseret News, January 30, 1951)
November 16, 1951
The U.S. Post Office began using its new parcel post sorting facility, located in the Union Pacific-owned Postal Annex building, located just south of UP's Salt Lake City depot. Work began in January 1951 and was completed in time for the Christmas rush. The building measured 125 feet by 225 feet. It was built by Union Pacific and leased to United States Post Office Department upon completion. (Deseret News, January 27, 1951; November 13, 1951; December 12, 1951) Formally completed on November 30, 1952. (UP Work Order 3270, "complete" November 30, 1952)
The building was occupied by the Post Office Department from November 1951 to November 1975 when the Postal Service opened its new sorting facility at 21st South and Redwood Road. The move officially took place on Monday November 17, 1975. (Salt Lake Tribune, November 17, 1975)
Used By Amtrak
May 1, 1971
Amtrak started its service through Utah, serving only Ogden over the route of the former City of San Francisco. Amtrak's train was called the San Francisco Zephyr.
The last passenger service to the Union Pacific Salt Lake City depot was the last eastbound City of Los Angeles on May 1, 1971, traveling through Salt Lake City to Ogden, where it was combined with the last City of San Francisco, bound for Chicago.
Under Amtrak, there was no passenger service to Salt Lake City by way of Union Pacific, until June 1977 and the start of The Pioneer service to Seattle. Between 1971 and 1977 the only passenger service to Salt Lake City was eastward to Denver by way of D&RGW, from the D&RGW depot in Salt Lake City.
Union Pacific removed the umbrella-style train sheds located along the west side of the Salt Lake City depot. (Historic American Building Survey, Utah State Division of History)
November 17, 1975
Known officially as the "Parcel Post Annex," and located just south of the depot building, the annex building (built in 1951) was occupied by the Post Office Department from November 1951 to November 1975 when the Postal Service opened its new sorting facility on Redwood Road. The move officially took place on Monday November 17, 1975. (Salt Lake Tribune, November 17, 1975)
Union Pacific moved its administrative offices into the newly renovated, former Post Office Annex building, south of the Salt Lake City depot. With this move, the railroad vacated leased office space at 10 South Main Street in downtown Salt Lake. (Union Pacific October 28, 1976 letter to Julian Caviler, letter furnished by UP public relations department in Omaha)
Previously, UP had located its offices in the "Union Pacific Building" situated at No. 10 South Main Street, at the corner of South Temple and Main Street. Formerly called the "Oregon Short Line Building", the building had been occupied by OSL since 1910. The original OSL offices in Salt Lake City had burned completely in September 1901, and the new OSL building replaced the destroyed structure. (interview with C. R. Rockwell, UP public relations representative, circa 1978)
June 6, 1977
Amtrak's Pioneer, Trains 25 and 26, began service between Salt Lake City and Seattle, by way of Ogden, Pocatello, Boise, and Portland. (The Mixed Train, May 1977, page 12)
Union Pacific replaced the original slate roofing with copper standing-seam roofing.
October 28, 1979
Amtrak's Desert Wind, Trains 35 and 36, began service between Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, and Ogden, Utah, where the train connected with Amtrak's San Francisco Zephyr from Oakland, and Amtrak's Pioneer from Seattle, for service to Chicago. (Amtrak Public Timetable, October 1, 1979, page 45)
The service and schedule between Salt Lake City and Ogden was different for the Desert Wind, and for the existing Pioneer train. The Desert Wind made a direct connection with the San Francisco Zephyr at Ogden. (Amtrak Public Timetable, October 1, 1979, page 45)
April 24, 1983
Amtrak's San Francisco Zephyr was renamed California Zephyr, and changed its routing from its UP-Wyoming route to a new D&RGW-Colorado route. (Amtrak Public Timetable, April 24, 1983, page 45)
At the same time, Desert Wind service was cut back from Ogden to Salt Lake City. There was no need to duplicate the Salt Lake City to Ogden service that was now being provided by the new California Zephyr train as it came into Salt Lake City from the south via D&RGW, and continued west to Oakland via SP's route west from Ogden across Great Salt Lake.
July 16, 1983
Amtrak's newly renamed California Zephyr began using its new route by way of D&RGW through Utah and Colorado. Although officially renamed from San Francisco Zephyr to California Zephyr on April 25, 1983, with the new route being changed at the same time, the train itself was detoured over UP's route across Wyoming due to the mud slide on D&RGW's route at Thistle, Utah. The D&RGW route was reopened for freight service with the completion of a new tunnel on July 4th, bypassing the Thistle slide. Amtrak's passenger service was delayed until July 16th.
October 30, 1983
The last eastbound Amtrak California Zephyr left Ogden Union Station after having come east on SP's Great Salt Lake causeway, ending almost 115 years of continuous passenger service between Ogden and Oakland-San Francisco. After leaving Ogden, the train proceeded south to Salt Lake City and then headed east across Colorado instead of east through Wyoming. The next day, the eastbound train ran into Salt Lake City over Union Pacific's tracks (former Western Pacific) along the south shore of the lake, bypassing the causeway and Ogden completely. From then on the only regularly scheduled Amtrak train through Ogden was the Pioneer, Amtrak trains 25 and 26, which from 1983 to 1991 ran from Seattle to Portland, across Oregon and Idaho, to Salt Lake City, where it connected with the California Zephyr to Chicago. At this time, and throughout the 1980s, a typical consist of the California Zephyr east from Salt Lake City was two F40 locomotives, eight cars from Oakland, two cars from a connection with the Desert Wind from Los Angeles, and two more cars from the Pioneer connection, by way of Ogden. (Amtrak Public Timetable, October 30, 1983, page 46; routing changed from SP westward from Ogden, to UP [former WP] westward from Salt Lake City)
August 28, 1984
With the changes in Amtrak operations, including the change in routes for the California Zephyr which itself changed the amount of switching and shuffling of the cars in the Amtrak trains, UP and Amtrak agreed to disagree about a way forward. Amtrak announced that they would move into the former Chevrolet warehouse at 358 Rio Grande Street, just south of the D&RGW passenger depot, after fully renovating the two-story, 225,000 square-feet vacant warehouse. Moving into the Rio Grande depot was Amtrak's first choice, but Amtrak's move into the Rio Grande depot was opposed by the state historical society after the state had spent $4 million to renovate the depot specifically for use by the historical society. Additional meetings were planned between UP, D&RGW, Amtrak, and city and state officials to work out a workable agreement. (Deseret News, August 28, 1984)
October 26, 1986
"Depot Change In Salt Lake -- After a considerable amount of discussion between Amtrak and the Union Pacific, Amtrak will move on October 26 to the former Rio Grande depot about three blocks southwest of the present location. While moving was not Amtrak's first choice in the matter, they will save approximately $800,000 per year with the change. One important factor is that they will take over responsibility for switching in Salt Lake. This has at times been a sore point, as UP crews have frequently taken excessive time to complete the switching on the Pioneer and Desert Wind to add and subtract through cars from the California Zephyr to the connecting trains. The Rio Grande depot site is now in the hands of the Utah Historical Society, and under the new agreement, Amtrak will share a portion of the refurbished wing of the building. They will add standby power and improve lighting at the facility. No mention has been made of whether Amtrak will bring in its own locomotive for switching, or lease one. Small changes will be made in the routing of trains into the new depot location." (The Mixed Train, citing the National Association of Railroad Passengers newsletter)
Donated To State Of Utah
October 27, 1988
Union Pacific announced plans to donate the Salt Lake City depot to the State of Utah, which in turn planned to use the facility to house its $2 million fine art collection. A feasibility study was about to begin that would determine the cost of a renovation of the building for the purpose of becoming the new home for the art collection. the depot was currently in use as a training center for the railroad, which, along with other offices, would be moved to other locations in the valley. The formal donation was to take place during summer 1989, and the employees would be out of the building by then. (Deseret News, October 27, 1988; October 28, 1988; Provo Daily Spectrum, October 30, 1988)
October 18, 1989
Union Pacific donated its Salt Lake City depot to the State of Utah, at a ceremony and dinner attended by Michael Walsh, Union Pacific president; Drew Lewis, Union Pacific chairman, and Utah governor, Norm H. Bangerter. (Deseret News, October 19, 1989; Salt Lake Tribune, October 19, 1989)
In early November 1989 the State Division of History proposed a "Museum of Utah" to be located in the now state-owned Union Pacific depot, to tell the full story of Utah in historical artifacts and in fine art, together with facets of the state's natural history. The division would work with the arts council to develop a joint facility the encompassed both the former Union Pacific depot, and the former D&RGW museum. The press began calling the concept a "super museum." By April 1990 the proposal had been withdrawn, and the Union Pacific museum would be solely used by the arts council. By January 1991, the use of the depot as a dedicated home of the state's fine art collection was on hold after directors of the state's other art institutions had formally objected to the plan. The objections were based on the cost of the planned renovation of the depot, which would take up large amounts of funding that was sorely needed by all the organizations, and not just the arts council. The initial cost would be $8.5 million, and total cost over 30 years would be $29 million. (Deseret News, November 6, 1989; April 1, 1990; Provo Daily Spectrum, January 30, 1991; February 4, 1991)
Construction began on the new arena for the Utah Jazz professional basketball team, to be located directly across the street east and south of the Union Pacific depot. During mid May 1990, the site was a parking lot used by the Utah Arts Festival. The arena was to be completed by October 1991. (Deseret News, May 14, 1990)
January 11, 1995
Plans were announced to make the Salt Lake City depot the center of a new $52 million science and art center, to be called the "Gateway Center." It was to be a partnership between the Utah Arts Council and the Utah Science Center Authority, which had been created by the state legislature in 1993 to support the expansion of science learning in the state. (Salt Lake Tribune, January 11, 1995)
September 15, 1995
The concept of a facility to make use of the former Union Pacific depot was the seed for the formation of a public-private partnership to be known as "The Gateway Center," as a collaboration of Hansen Planetarium, the Utah Arts Council and the Utah Science Center Authority. (Deseret News, September 15, 1995)
March 21, 1996
The Utah Science Authority Board was disbanded. The board was the agency formed in 1993 with the task of making the depot work as the site for the science center, but because Union Pacific still owned the land under, and surrounding the depot, the board was unable to find a solution and make the idea work. After press reports showed that the Authority's part-time director was receiving an annual salary of $96,000, Salt Lake County withheld its upcoming contribution of $100,000, saying that the high-priced salary of the director and other board members had not resulted in any solid plans or proposals to move forward with the planned state science center, with a price tag of between $30 million and $50 million, using money that was needed all across the state. The science board, and its planned Gateway Project had already spent $400,000 in state and local funds over the previous three years. (Deseret News, March 21, 1996)
UP's passenger depot and tracks west of the depot were offered for sale. (Deseret Morning News, January 6, 1998, "a year ago")
Salt Lake City, Union Pacific, and Utah Department of Transportation all signed an agreement to consolidate the railroad's tracks and shorten the viaducts along Salt Lake City's west side, from North Temple Street on the north, to 1000 South, and between 300 West and Interstate 15. The agreement called for UDOT to contribute $8 million of the projected $11.7 million cost, with Salt Lake City picking up the remaining $3.7 million. The money was to be used to purchase the land from the railroad. (Salt Lake Tribune, March 28, 1999)
January 6, 1998
The potential sale to developers included the railroad's property surrounding the Salt Lake City depot, and the yard area west of the depot. Numerous companies expressed interest in purchasing the property, but only two companies (Boyer Company and Excel Realty) submitted serious offers. In December 1997, both companies made presentations to a joint audience of city and Union Pacific officials. The purchase was to include a 25,000-square-foot office building south of the Union Pacific Depot, in use as the central offices of UP's Salt Lake City Service Unit, being the former the Post Office Annex. The depot building itself was owned by the State of Utah. (Deseret Morning News, January 6, 1998)
The Union Pacific Depot was an integral part of Boyer's proposed Gateway Project, but Boyer did not control it. It was owned by the state. Boyer had been talking with state officials about renovating the depot, which needs seismic and other improvements, set to cost $15 million. (Deseret Morning News, May 8, 1998)
In 1998, the Gateway District was named by the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency as a "Brownfields Showcase Community", for its integrated strategy in the mitigation of over 100 years of prior use by railroads and other industries. This Brownfields designation would allow federal money to be used in the removal industrial wastes and development of the entire district as a mixed-use center for low- and middle-income residents and retail and office use. (Salt Lake Tribune, March 28, 1999)
May 7, 1998
The Boyer Company unveiled its plans for the Gateway area west of the Union Pacific depot. The developer envisioned 600,000 square feet of entertainment and retail space, 300,000 square feet of cultural space, 750,000 square feet of office space, 350 residential units, and a 250-room hotel. (Deseret News, May 8, 1998)
September 30, 1998
Union Pacific received federal Surface Transportation Board approval to abandon three miles of rail line within Salt Lake City, including 1.25 miles of the mainline trackage along 400 West from South Temple, south to 600 South. This was the original Utah Southern line between Salt Lake City and Provo, completed in 1871. (STB Docket AB-33, Sub 116X; initially filed on June 12, 1998; decided September 28, 1998)
October 15, 1998
The following comes from the 1998 annual report of the Salt Lake City Redevelopment Agency.
On October 15, 1998, the City Council and RDA Board of Directors passed the ordinance and resolutions necessary to create the Depot District Redevelopment Project Area. The agency also passed a 24-year tax increment which affects less than 100 of the 170 acres in the project area.
The Redevelopment Plan for the Depot District will implement the Gateway District Master Plan which was adopted by the Salt Lake City Planning Commission and City Council in August 1998. Several private developments have been proposed for the Depot District including the Bridges project located on the southwest corner of 500 West and 200 South; the UP Land Development on the 30 acres of land behind and to the south of the Union Pacific Depot; and the Benchmark Housing Development proposed for a site at North Temple and 600 West. All of these projects propose a mix of residential and commercial development which will begin to make the vision of an urban neighborhood a reality.
With the goal of matching public and private investments, Salt Lake City and the Redevelopment Agency are seeking funds to build public infrastructure in the district. The key project will be the creation of the 500 West Pork from North Temple to 400 South. The site at 600 West and 200 South has been selected by the City Council as the new intermodal hub for Salt Lake City. Initially, the hub will be the downtown Salt Lake City stop for Amtrak and Greyhound. Future plans include commuter rail and a light rail connection to the planned downtown light rail lines.
November 19, 1998
In an agreement between the Salt Lake City Redevelopment Agency and The Boyer Company, signed in late 1998, the Boyer company was set to receive up to $18.5 million in subsidies from the RDA for its 40-acre development in the Gateway District. The redevelopment board on November 19, 1998, approved Boyer's request for assistance in infrastructure such as sidewalk and road improvement as well as monies for parking space and the renovation of the old Union Pacific Depot at 400 West and South Temple, which was reported as being structurally unsound with a cost of millions to renovate. The depot was an integral part of Boyer's design for the mixed-use office, residential, and recreational complex just west of and including the historic depot building. Of the announced $18.5 million funding figure, $16.5 million was not to be in "up-front" monies. But rather in the form of tax credits over a period of 15 to 20 years to compensate the developer for its construction of city-owned streets, sewers, sidewalks and other improvements. (Deseret Morning News, November 20, 1998; Salt Lake Tribune, March 28, 1999; Deseret News, December 13, 1999)
February 16, 1999
Analysis found only small isolated areas of environmental contamination, and cleanup across the entire 650-acre Gateway District would be fairly easy and low-cost to complete. Pretty amazing news, considering how that space had been used for the past 100+ years, including by railroads and heavy industry. (Deseret News, February 16, 1999)
March 28, 1999
By March 1999, Salt Lake City officials stated that federal funding from the EPA Brownfields status was coming in too slowly, showing that $2.15 million had been received, with another $2.8 million promised. Another $13 million was still needed. To overcome the slow arrival of federal funding, Salt Lake City approved a loan of $8.41 million from city's general fund. The loan would be used immediately to allow RDA to begin the removal of railroad tracks and to build the new (temporary) home for Amtrak. (Salt Lake Tribune, March 28, 1999)
April 26, 1999
UP's tracks along 400 West were officially removed from service when the turnout leading to the trackage was spiked shut at the north end, at Grant Tower. (Union Pacific internal communication)
May 3, 1999
The removal of UP's tracks along 400 West at 400 South, 500 South, and 600 South was begun by crews of Wasatch Constructors, the contractor for Utah Department of Transportation's rebuilding of I-15 and its approaches to Salt Lake City. The agreements between UDOT, Salt Lake City, and Union Pacific, for the removal of UP tracks, were completed in October 1997 "after many months of tough negotiations". The changes were to remove 66 grade crossings and a total of 4.3 miles of track. The removal of tracks along 500 West (the former D&RGW passenger line) was to begin in June. (Deseret News, May 3, 1999, "End of 400 West Tracks in sight")
Work began to demolish and remove the abandoned rail yards and structures surrounding the former Union Pacific depot. In addition to smaller out buildings, the major structures included the former UP dispatching center adjacent to 400 West and North Temple, and the former UP administrative offices for the railroad's Salt Lake City Service Unit, which were themselves located in the former Post Office Annex located at 400 West and 100 South. (Union Pacific internal communication)
August 11, 1999
Work had begun demolishing the former Parcel Post Annex building, removing part of the roof and walls, when on August 11, 1999, a very rare tornado swept through downtown Salt Lake City, causing many media reports that the tornado had destroyed the depot itself.
Depot Sold By State
December 5, 1999
Ownership of the Union Pacific depot passed from the state's Division of Facilities Construction and Management to Salt Lake City, then to The Boyer Company. The deal included the following ground rules, taken from the December 5, 1999 issue of the Salt Lake Tribune newspaper.
Boyer will have to maintain a public walkway through the depot.
The Arts Council will be allowed to continue its regular exhibits in the depot waiting room.
Salt Lake City's Historic Landmarks Commission will review all renovation and restoration plans for the building, which is listed on the city's historic register.
And, to take advantage of federal tax credits, the developer will have to comply with the U.S. Department of the Interior's historic-preservation requirements.
The depot, while under state ownership as the home of the Utah Arts Council, had an annual maintenance bill of $200,000. In a three-way deal between Salt Lake City, the State of Utah, and The Boyer Company, ownership of the depot changed hands from the state to Boyer. No money changed hands, "just paper". In return, the Arts Council moved from the depot to a Boyer-owned home at 300 South and 500 West. Without the landmark public and private deal by the end of 1999, Boyer would have walked away from the entire Gateway Project, stating that without the depot building itself, there would have been no "Gateway" to develop.
December 12, 1999
The Boyer Company saw the Gateway Project as primarily pedestrian oriented with the Union Pacific depot as the entry point through which people would pass into the open plaza. While $14 million was to be spent on the depot, much of that would go to meeting earthquake and other structural work. Boyer said it would otherwise look much like it before the sale, with the building's grand hall preserved for public access to Gateway and as a site for ceremonial events, art exhibits and other public gatherings. The wings on either side of the depot were to be used for restaurant and entertainment space. (Deseret Morning News, December 12, 1999)
December 13, 1999
A formal ground breaking ceremony was held for The Gateway development, although work had already begun. There had been sufficient demolition and clearing of the property west of the depot to allow improvements to begin. (U. S. Housing and Urban Development, "Utah Highlights", February 9, 2000)
December 14, 1999
The Boyer Company bought the Union Pacific Depot in December 1999 from the State of Utah in a deal facilitated by funds from Salt Lake City's Redevelopment Agency. There was an estimate of $14 million to renovate the structure. (Deseret Morning News, December 14, 1999; May 14, 2005)
The House of Blues, a nightclub and restaurant proposed for the north wing of the Union Pacific depot, was refused its design for signs above the club entrance. The club was to include 1000-seat concert hall, and was to be open just days before the start of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. (Deseret News, August 2, 2001)
November 1, 2001
The Gateway celebrated its grand opening on Thursday November 1, 2001, as hundreds of people gathered at the Union Pacific Depot. (Deseret Morning News, November 2, 2001)
November 14, 2002
Los Angeles-based Virgin Entertainment Group, North America, announced that the Virgin Megastore at The Gateway would open November 14, 2002. As a tenant inside the former Union Pacific depot's south wing, it was to be the 23rd Virgin Megastore in North America. The store would offer more than 75,000 music titles on CD; 15,000 movie and music titles on DVD and VHS; and more than 500 entertainment software titles. (Deseret Morning News, October 29, 2002)
(The Virgin Megastore closed in May 2007 -- Deseret News, May 19, 2007) (The location in the south wing of the former Union Pacific depot has been occupied since by a series of retail outlets, business offices, and public display venues.)
October 14, 2003
Gateway Associates (The Boyer Company) paid for half the public improvements in some areas of the Gateway Project and three-fourths of the improvements to the Union Pacific depot. According to comments by staff members of the Salt Lake City Redevelopment Agency, Salt Lake City allowed a tax increment reimbursement to defray some of that expense. (Salt Lake City council agenda for October 14, 2003)
Boyer sold Gateway's retail portion to Chicago-based Retail Properties of America Inc., formerly known as Inland Western Retail Real Estate Trust. The purchase price was reported as $143.6 million. (Salt Lake Tribune, November 26, 2015)
The Salt Lake Tribune newspaper moved its offices from downtown Salt Lake City, to a new location in The Gateway. (Salt Lake Tribune, April 5, 2005)
May 13, 2005
The Boyer Company formed a partnership with Inland Western Retail Real Estate Trust Inc. to own and manage the retail portion of The Gateway. That portion included the shopping center's 95 stores and restaurants, but not the former Union Pacific depot. (Deseret News, May 14, 2005)
January 27, 2006
A 21-and-older night club called "The Depot" opened in the north end of the former Union Pacific depot. The club included a 220-seat restaurant, and a 1,200-seat performance venue with high quality sound systems. (Deseret News, January 27, 2006)
September 16, 2006
The Children's Museum of Utah name was officially changed to Discovery Gateway Children's Museum, during the grand opening celebration at The Gateway location, after moving from the former Wasatch Springs location. Construction at The Gateway began on September 2, 2005.
March 22, 2012
The City Creek Center in downtown Salt Lake City had its grand opening ceremony. The following comes from Wikipedia.
Development of the City Creek Center began in 2003, when a for-profit company owned by the LDS Church purchased the Crossroads Plaza Mall, a shopping center on the west side of Main Street from the ZCMI Center Mall. Both malls had been constructed in the 1970s. In 2001, the Boyer Company completed its new open-air mall called The Gateway, four blocks to the west of Crossroads and ZCMI, drawing more business away from Main Street. Soon after, the Nordstrom store at Crossroads announced its intentions to leave the mall and open a new store at Gateway. The LDS Church purchased the Crossroads mall in 2003 and redeveloped the area. The church enlisted the help of Taubman Centers, Inc. to help it redesign the malls into a single project and recruit retailers to fill it. In October 2006, the concept design of City Creek Center was announced. A ribbon-cutting ceremony took place on March 22, 2012.
The City Creek Center features 700,000 square feet of mixed use residential, office and retail space with the main mall itself featuring an open-air design, similar to the competing The Gateway mall. The City Creek Center also won an award for its retractable roof. The mall is intended to cater predominantly to pedestrian traffic. Multi-level sidewalks feature six total acres of green space, fountains, and a stream. A pedestrian skyway links the two city blocks across Main Street. The site is served by the City Center station of the TRAX light rail system, and a large underground parking lot capable of holding 5,600 vehicles.
In 2013, a partnership between real estate investment firms Hines and Oaktree Capital Management bought four of The Gateway's six office buildings from Boyer. (Salt Lake Tribune, November 26, 2015, "two years ago")
The Gateway shopping complex was sold to Arizona-based Vestar, a large private equity company specializing in shopping mall ownership across the western United States.
November 28, 2016
The following comes from the November 28, 2016 issue of the Salt Lake Tribune newspaper.
Arizona-based Vestar officials, who bought the open-air mall in February, said Monday they upped their expected investment from $30 million and noted that plans remain firmly on track to convert The Gateway into a regional food-and-beverage, entertainment and social hub.
The operator of nearly 45 malls across the West is promising to make the retail center on downtown Salt Lake City's west end a showcase of public art, unique restaurants and live events 200 days a year in a direct appeal to families and millennials. But rebranding malls takes time.
The mall still boasts 80 stores and eateries. Vestar initially said it would spend $30 million on its makeover as it sought to restore foot traffic and a sense of vitality to the shopping center, which debuted in 2001 with taxpayer backing.
The $30 million sum will be devoted to structural improvements at the 623,205-square-foot retail center, with $60 million going toward a boutique hotel at the historic Union Pacific Depot and $10 million for other upgrades.
October 10, 2017
"The Gateway is shifting into an entertainment-focused gathering place after the 5-year-old City Creek Center mall siphoned much of its business. We continue to move away from a traditional mall concept and into a place where people can experience something new." (Salt Lake Tribune, October 10, 2017)
Vestar has continued in its efforts to develop The Gateway as a destination. The retail portion may be slowly disappearing, but its future as an entertainment center, and a location for offices and high-density residential seems well established. As a retail center, it's been down hill since City Creek opened in 2012. Boyer saw the trend and sold out in 2005. Then two years ago, the people they sold it to, sold it again. It cost Boyer $375 million to build it, with a good portion coming from Salt Lake City itself as RDA funds to clean up those nasty rail yards. Started in 1999, opened in 2001. Sold in 2005. Valued at $163 million in 2010; valued at $75 million in 2016. Turning The Gateway into apartments, hotels, and offices, with TRAX light rail routes on three sides, appears to be working, with a 110-year-old former railroad depot smack in the middle. Always moving with the trends, Apple opened their store at The Gateway in 2005, then moved to City Creek in 2012.
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