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Panel studying plan for ZCMI facade

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Artist's rendering of the ZCMI facade reconstructed on the front of Macy's department store.

Artist’s rendering of the ZCMI facade reconstructed on the front of Macy’s department store.

Provided by: City Creek Reserve Inc

A 19-month approval process that included at least two dozen appearances before Salt Lake City government boards and commissions is coming to a close for City Creek Center.

Partners in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' $1.5 billion downtown project met with the city's Historic Landmark Commission on Wednesday night to discuss the final stamp of approval needed for the development.

Plans for a new Macy's to co-anchor the retail, residential and office complex call for the historic ZCMI facade to be reconstructed on the front of the department store. The developers need permission from the Historic Landmark Commission because the cast-iron front is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The commission had been scheduled to make a decision Wednesday night but postponed any action until July 1 at the request of City Creek Reserve Inc., a real estate arm of the LDS Church.

Alan Sullivan, legal counsel for CCRI, said all of the information needed for the commission to make a decision "had not been adequately communicated" by developers to city staff.

"This is an important decision for the project, and we didn't want to rush that," Sullivan said.

The three-story ZCMI facade underwent careful disassembly last fall and was put into storage so the old Macy's building could be demolished.

The Historic Landmark Commission approved that action in June 2007, along with developers' plans to move the new Macy's building — and the facade — 25 feet to the north at approximately 15 S. Main.

The commission now must approve the way the facade will look as part of the new development.

The developers' plans call for the new building to be the same height as the facade, leaving the decorative peak atop the facade to stand alone as it did in 1910 — unlike the most recent reconstruction in the 1970s.

"This will bring something quite exquisite to Main Street, something far better than in 1975," said Bill Williams, director of architecture for CCRI.

New designs incorporating the facade were tricky, developers said, because the three stories in the historic front don't match those of the new store. Because of that, windows other than those at street level will feature non-transparent glass.

Lighting is planned for the upper-level windows to give the building a glowing appearance at night.

Six sets of show windows for merchandise and mannequins modeling apparel are planned for the second and third floors. Employees will have to use ladders to reach the staging areas because of the discrepancy in store levels.

Polly Hart, a member of the Historic Landmark Commission, said she wasn't impressed with plans for opaque-glass windows that light up at night.

"To me, it looks like dead space," Hart said. "I still feel like that doesn't go quite far enough."

Commissioners also expressed concern with the main entrance and plans for a loggia — a gallery or corridor area — between the facade and the store. Shoppers will have to use steps down to enter Macy's from Main Street because of the 4-foot grade change between the north and south ends of the store's location.

The original ZCMI facade was constructed in three phases in 1876, 1880 and 1901, according to city planning documents. The structure to be re-installed is both a remnant of that facade and a re-creation from the 1970s, when the ZCMI Center was built.

The May Co. purchased the store in 1999 and converted it into a Meier & Frank. In 2006, Federated Department Stores bought May Co., and Utah's Meier & Frank stores — including the downtown location — became Macy's.

Macy's and Nordstrom are seen as anchors for City Creek Center. CCRI estimates the project will attract 10 million people annually when it's complete in 2012.

E-mail: jpage@desnews.com