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Trolley Square launching renovation

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Artist Rendering, Scanlan Kemper Bard

The first signs of Trolley Square's $40 million renovation are going up this week, as workers prepare the mall for redevelopment.

N. Thomas Bard, principal of mall owner SkanlonKemperBard, said Wednesday that barricades are now up to steer traffic away from construction areas in the mall's main building.

"We have received our demolition permit and expect to receive the building permits within the next couple of weeks," Bard said. "Work will start very soon."

SKB and its Trolley partner, Blake Hunt Ventures, announced last fall a $40 million redevelopment at the historic retail site. The plans call for a new building in the northeast corner of the Trolley Square block, which will house a 50,000-square-foot Whole Foods store; a $6 million renovation of the main building; a new parking structure; and the possibility of new upscale residences.

Ahead of the various demolition phases, some of the mall's tenants have been or will be asked to relocate, Bard said. In the first phase, those include Ypsilon and Casa Bella. The Brass Key and Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory have closed temporarily and will return midsummer.

Mall management will provide store locator maps, updated as needed.

"Our initial work is going to be in the southeast corner and the northwest corner" of the building, Bard said. "So, we had a couple of folks we needed to relocate to free up that space.

"We recognize there will be some inconveniences and changes in the mall as we embark on our restoration plans. The long-term outcome, however, will be an even more exciting and dynamic gathering place, rich with historic integrity and all the elements of a premier destination where the community can socialize, live, work and play."

The mall will remain open during redevelopment, Bard said. Most of the mall's local tenants, and all of its restaurants and national retailers, have chosen to stay at Trolley Square through the renovation.

In addition, Trolley is in lease talks with several national retailers, many of which will be making their first entry into the Utah market. Bard declined to name names Wednesday, saying an announcement could come in 60 to 90 days.

"There will be some that will be new to the market," Bard said. "We've gotten feedback that a number of them are really interested in one location in the Salt Lake City market and that they'd like it to be at Trolley Square. Others already have locations in Utah and would like to add Trolley Square. But for most of our strong local retailers, this is their only location, and we are thrilled to find so much enthusiasm on their part in staying."

Among them are Tabula Rasa and Cabin Fever, both owned by David Dean.

"This is a very dynamic project, and we are thrilled to be a part of it," Dean said in a prepared statement. "This renovation has been long overdue, and it will help secure Trolley Square's place in Utah's exciting retail market."

If all goes as planned, Bard said, the entire redevelopment may take two years. Construction on the Whole Foods building is scheduled to start later this fall, he said, and likely would take 18 months to complete.

"It's a little optimistic," Bard said of the timeline. "But we're optimistic."

Also in the works: Bard said the western parking garage is slated to be torn down and rebuilt, a project that could begin in the next 30 days, pending the appropriate permits.

When the project is finished, SKB has said the new Trolley Square will retain all of the elements that have distinguished it in the past but will emerge augmented with new elements that will make the shopping experience brighter, more open and more conducive to longer, more social visits. In addition to the new structures, new elements include fountains and fireplaces, brighter walkways and corridors, and possibly the creation of a domed interior courtyard area where special events may be held.

Also Wednesday, Bard issued more thanks to the community following the shootings at Trolley in February.

"The continuing support of the local community has been enormous," he said. "The customers are coming regularly, sales are better this year than (at the same time) last year. We have every reason to be appreciative of the support we've had, and we are."

E-mail: jnii@desnews.com