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The City Journals

Hundreds of state employees to move to former American Express building in January

Nov 26, 2019 05:04PM ● By Carl Fauver

Hundreds of state employees will begin moving into the former American Express building in Taylorsville next month. (Sarah Boll, DFCM)

By Carl Fauver | [email protected]

Months after Utah lawmakers were patting themselves on the back — and calling it a deal “too good to be true” — hundreds of state employees are packing their offices and cubicles to make the move to the former American Express building in Taylorsville (4315 South 2700 West).

“This (renovated American Express building) is going to create a new standard for state offices,” said Sarah Boll, assistant director of the state Division of Facilities Construction and Management. “In state government, we are trying to give our workspace more appeal. As new, younger employees come to work, we are trying to include things they expect. We need to do it to recruit.”

Earlier this year, the legislature’s Executive Appropriations Committee unanimously approved a $56 million expenditure to purchase and renovate the American Express building. At the time, lawmaker Karen Mayne — whose senate district encompasses the property — said, “This is one sweet deal.”

“The purchase price for the 31.77-acre parcel and building was $30 million, with another $23 million budgeted for renovation,” Boll said. “That is much more acreage than we need. We plan to consider opportunities to lease part of the acreage once all the renovations are completed.”

Translation: restaurants (fast food or others), exercise facilities, daycare centers or other amenities may pop up in the area in the years ahead as businesses try to attract clientele from what has become a massive state government footprint.

State laboratories, the Utah Office of the Medical Examiner and the Department of Public Safety Calvin Rampton Complex are all in the same area. 

“There are about 700 state employees in the area now, and when it is fully renovated, the (American Express) building could hold another 1,600,” Boll said. “The way our (renovation) phasing is going, the third floor (of four in the AmEx building) will be completely done for a January move-in. Construction will continue on the other floors at that time, but it should not bother those employees who move in first.”

The newly arriving employees are coming from the state office building north of the State Capitol. Part of the motivation in getting them relocated next month is to free up additional parking around the capitol during the 2020 State Legislative Session.

About 300 employees are expected to begin occupying the Taylorsville building next month.

“We definitely consider this the creation of a new state campus,” Boll said. “This is a terrific opportunity for us to rethink and modernize our workspaces. When finished, the building’s work environments will serve as a model for office space all over the state.”

In fact, once the build out is complete in the American Express building, Boll said her department will begin a comprehensive effort to reevaluate all of the state’s work areas.

“We plan to create a statewide space master plan,” she said. “We will be looking at 50 buildings the state owns, along with 30 leased properties, just in the Salt Lake Valley. We believe it is better to own than to lease. So, we will review our contracts to determine whether we can get out of some leases.”

Boll said another goal in creating the master plan is to avoid building new structures. She claims renovation costs are about $150 per square foot, while new construction is closer to $500 per square foot.

According to the DFCM website, the renovated building and grounds will include: “central security and check-in, a well-appointed café with indoor and outdoor seating, a large gym and a pond and walking paths with remarkable views of the mountains.”

“I am so happy to see that building being filled, and I think the state is wise to create this large campus,” said Taylorsville Mayor Kristie Overson. “The additional employees are likely to draw other businesses into the area as well. And this should provide a big boost to our BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) project. I hope it encourages the state to provide more funding for the mass transit project.”

Following the initial January move-in, other state employees are scheduled to follow next August and a year from now.