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Ground broken for Salt Lake City convention hotel that’s been years in the making

Visit Salt Lake Visitors Center representative Jodi Reese looks at a model of the Hyatt Regency Salt Lake City in the Salt Palace Convention Center on Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. Construction on the hotel is scheduled to start Jan. 13 and the grand opening is scheduled for October 2022.
Visit Salt Lake Visitors Center representative Jodi Reese looks at a model of the Hyatt Regency Salt Lake City in the Salt Palace Convention Center on Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. Construction on the hotel is scheduled to start Jan. 13 and the grand opening is scheduled for October 2022.
Ivy Ceballo, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — After years of discussion and political wrangling, Salt Lake City has finally turned some dirt for its convention center hotel.

Salt Lake County officials, in conjunction with Atlanta-based real estate developer Portman Holdings, broke ground Friday on the building, which the Hyatt Hotels Corp. will manage and operate as the new Hyatt Regency Salt Lake City. The new hotel will be located at the corner of 200 South and West Temple in downtown Salt Lake City, adjacent to the Salt Palace Convention Center.

Scheduled to open in October 2022, the $377-million project will be partially financed through the Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy program, which allows for specialty financing to enable green energy design and implementation, a news release stated. The 700-room hotel will be among the first “ground-up” developments to utilize the program in the Beehive State.

“We are delighted to have closed financing and to commence construction of the state-of-art, 700-key Hyatt Regency convention hotel in Salt Lake City,” said Ambrish Baisiwala, chairman and CEO of Portman Holdings. “This is the culmination of a multiyear effort, a strong partnership with the county, and an innovative financing and execution strategy.”

“What we hope that this will do is further enhance Salt Lake City as a convention destination and basically allow meeting planners to consider the (city) and to bring groups here, which they are not doing right now,” he added.

As part of the agreement to develop the project, Portman Holdings will receive a percentage of the tax revenue generated when the hotel is up and running.

“We’ve been doing this for 60 years to require a degree of economic support upfront, but generally that support comes from the hotel’s cash flows,” he explained. “So it’s not that the county or city today wrote a check to us. It’s basically support from the taxes that this property will generate being paid back to the state and the county and the city — we are getting a portion of that back. There’s no upfront support.”

Officials conduct a groundbreaking ceremony for the Hyatt Regency Salt Lake City outside the Salt Palace Convention Center on Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. Construction on the hotel is scheduled to start Jan. 13 and the grand opening is scheduled for October 2022.
Officials conduct a groundbreaking ceremony for the Hyatt Regency Salt Lake City outside the Salt Palace Convention Center on Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. Construction on the hotel is scheduled to start Jan. 13 and the grand opening is scheduled for October 2022.
Ivy Ceballo, Deseret News

Speaking at a groundbreaking event, Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson said the project was a collaborative effort involving numerous entities including Salt Lake City, the state and private sector partners, among others. She added that the new hotel will be an asset to Utah’s convention and tourism sector.

“We are so excited for this project to come to fruition as it has been many years in the making,” Wilson said. “This convention center hotel will change the urban landscape of Salt Lake City and help strengthen the local economy.”

State officials said the new convention center hotel will have a significant impact on the Utah economy, not just locally.

“It’s going to mean great things for Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County, but also for the whole state of Utah,” said Ben Hart, deputy director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.

“It gives us another layer of sophistication when it comes to attracting bigger and better shows to the state of Utah that helps the entire area. Utah’s going to take a better step in terms of prominence on the national stage because of a facility like this,” he said. “People that hadn’t considered the state before are now going to say, ‘I need to look at Utah, I need to be in Utah for these conventions.’ That’s what kind of prominence this new center is going to give us.”

The 686,784-square-foot, 26-story hotel will include 700 guest rooms and 60,000 square feet of meeting space, as well as two separate restaurants on the first and sixth floors and a lobby bar. The sixth-floor restaurant will sit adjacent to an outdoor area with a swimming pool, as well as a 7,500-square-foot outdoor terrace for events and other activities.

The project will be directly connected to the Salt Palace Convention Center to provide convenience for convention attendees, Baisiwala said.

“This is one of the most exciting developments we’ve seen in the last 20 years. It takes full advantage of our stunning mountain backdrop and the downtown’s urban setting,” said Mark White, senior vice president of sales and services for Visit Salt Lake.

“This hotel is built directly into the convention center, which makes it exceptionally easy for the convention attendees to go in and out from their hotel rooms into the convention center,” he said. “Perhaps more importantly, it has a lot of suites — big rooms where VIPs can be housed. And it also has a lot of meeting space which augments the number of meeting rooms of the Salt Palace.”

“Every city we compete against has one or more of these convention hotels and that has been in an Achilles heel until now,” White said. Based on specific feedback from convention planners, Salt Lake City has lost out on bids for 43 conventions over the past two years specifically because it lacked a headquarters hotel, he noted.

“Our sales team now has everything meeting professionals want, and we’re ready to compete for more and larger trade shows and conventions,” White said.