SALT LAKE CITY — A dream more than three decades in the making came true Friday as the doors of the new Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office were opened.
As he breezed through the light and airy offices, welcomed staff and visitors, led tours of the building's highlights and cut a ribbon on the front steps, Salt Lake District Attorney Sim Gill beamed like a proud father over the space that will become a hub of the county's justice system in the coming week.
"I can't believe that we're actually here," Gill said, showing off an open "light well" that draws natural light down through each of the building's four floors of offices.
Gill was joined for the occasion by former Salt Lake District Attorney David Yocom, who began a campaign when he took office in 1986 to give his prosecutors "a home of our own." When the Scott M. Matheson Courthouse was built 10 years later, Yocom began pursuing a plot just behind it on the corner of 500 South and Main Street, but was ultimately unsuccessful.
Yocom smiled widely as he praised Gill's tenacity in marshaling necessary support and resources when the plot suddenly became available, bringing the gleaming new building to the very spot where he had envisioned it years ago.
"This has turned into something that I couldn't have possibly in my wildest dreams imagined," Yocum said in a ceremony before the ribbon-cutting. "It was a dream, and now it's a dream come true."
Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams heaped on his congratulations as well, commending Gill for completing the project on time and on budget.
It is estimated that by owning rather than renting, the building will end up saving the county at least $13 million over the next 30 years.
Meanwhile, a second facility has been built in West Jordan to accommodate prosecutors working on the west side of the county and to prepare for a future population boom. That building opened last summer.
The two facilities together were budgeted to cost $64 million.
Yocom's descriptions of his rented, dingy office plagued by insects, rodents and a leaky roof are hard to picture in Gill's glass-walled masterpiece filled with modern furniture and technological innovations. The windows on three sides of the building and glass walls between offices, conference rooms and work spaces are meant to convey openness and transparency, Gill said.
"The idea is that we need to be open, transparent and accessible," Gill said. "That is a central theme for us in this building."
Another purpose behind the building's design was supporting the well-being of the hardworking employees within the office, Gill said.
In addition to a sunny, open break room on the top level, the building includes an in-house day care, a private room for nursing mothers, a fitness facility and a rest area for every floor.
McAdams echoed that sentiment in his remarks Friday.
"This new building will provide the attorneys and the staff members who work here in the district attorney's office with a work environment that supports the critical and important job that they perform every day for the citizens of Salt Lake County," McAdams said. "This is ground zero for keeping Salt Lake County Safe."