This 25-story skyscraper in Salt Lake City has an unusual feature: a Latter-day Saint steeple
A four-story, 39,000-square-foot assembly hall, with two chapels, was amalgamated into the church’s new 95 State at City Creek office tower.
Steeples are commonplace in most Utah neighborhoods, but Salt Lake City’s newest features an uncommon combination: a 25-story skyscraper.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints unveiled a new place of worship Friday at the base of the downtown 95 State at City Creek office building.
Church leaders hope what they call the Social Hall Avenue Meetinghouse, located at State Street and 100 South, will attract those flocking to the booming downtown area.
“It will be a wonderful gathering place for them,” said General Authority Seventy Kevin Pearson, Utah Area President.
The four-story, 39,000-square-foot gathering place represents the first time the church has merged a commercial building and a church in the West.
The facility will house six wards or congregations, including two for young single adults. It will also be home to the historic Salt Lake Stake, a regional group of Latter-day Saint congregations organized in 1847 and the oldest continuous stake in the worldwide faith with 16.8 million members.
The former stake center, 142 W. 200 North, just northwest of the conference center, will become a campus for the private, denominational American Heritage School.
On State Street, the office building will include two chapels, including a ground floor area that can accommodate up to 510 worshippers. One floor above, a chapel large enough for 600 worshipers is fitted with stained glass windows made from over 100,000 individual pieces of glass.
Although the Social Hall Avenue Meetinghouse is the first of its kind in the West, it is not the church’s first attempt to combine commercial space with a place of worship. Such combinations exist in densely populated areas where land is scarce, including London and Brussels, Belgium.
Pearson said the church has always been interested in keeping Salt Lake City vibrant for residents and visitors, and is excited to be part of the downtown transformation.
“With the changes that are happening with this,” he said, “we see a great opportunity for the church to continue to grow here as well.”
The location of the new meetinghouse is also of historical significance to Latter-day Saints. It stands on the site of the pioneer-era social hall, where people gathered before the proliferation of meeting places in the Salt Lake Valley.
“We are excited about this legacy,” Pearson said, “because it will continue to play the same role it has played from the very beginning.”
Ashley Powell, president and CEO of Property Reserve Inc., a real estate investment arm of the church, said interest from commercial tenants was high before the pandemic but fell after the public health crisis has swept the world.
About a quarter of the building is already leased, he said, including the top two floors to a law firm. Another 50% of the building is in serious talks to be leased.
The 95 State at City Creek tower, Powell said, houses law firms, financial services, personnel and human resources, and consulting firms.
In the church’s experience, Powell said, pairing a meeting house with a commercial building has been no problem in attracting tenants.
In Alexandria, Va., where a chapel is connected to a 12-story apartment building, Powell said, the religious meeting place has sparked people’s interest.
“It’s actually quite positive,” he said.
The public can visit the new downtown church Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
It will host its first stake conference — a regional gathering of congregations — this weekend and will be dedicated on Sunday.
“Having the office tower provides a source of revenue to pay for the meeting venue,” L. Todd Budge of the Presiding Bishopric, who oversees the faith’s real estate, financial and charitable operations, said in a press release. “… Yes [Latter-day Saint pioneer-prophet Brigham Young] were to go up that escalator now, I think he’d be quite surprised at what’s on that lot.