Mormon Church Caught in $10 Billion Construction Scandal?
Above you can see the plans for the Mormon Church's City Creek Construction Project in Downtown Salt Lake City. The project budget was set at $350 million dollars. Today's purported figures for the project are at the 8-10 billion dollar mark.
The white buildings on the map are existing structures. The Beneficial Financial Tower, Zion's Bank Building, and the "renamed" Key Bank Tower were also existing structures. Instead of tearing down the First Security Building and replacing it with a new office tower, that building is being renovated. So, there are no "new" office structures being built with the project, all media reports to the contrary:
"When the center opens, it will include four residential towers on South Temple, office space both in existing and new buildings, three anchor department stores — Nordstrom, Macy's and Dillard's — and two levels of smaller retail stores fronting an indoor-outdoor pedestrian walkway. Other buildings in the project area that will remain are the Gateway West, Eagle Gate, Beneficial Financial Group and Zions Bank towers, Utah Woolen Mills, the Qwest building and the historic Deseret/First Security Bank building." (Source)
So, the project is basically some residential housing, a mall, and some ornate landscaping. It looks like 100 units of the residential will be built by and for the benefit of an outside business entity, so, it should not be part of the project budget.
"The first phase of residential construction will make about 400 units available for sale or rent, with more housing built as demand requires, according to PRI. As many as 100 other condominium units will be built by Cowboy Partners on the south side of Social Hall Avenue, east of State Street. (Source)
Two more future condominium buildings may be built someday on the block just east of the Crossroads block, and there also will be two levels of apartments for rent above some of the retail space. In all, there could be as many as 700 residential units available in the development." (Ibid)
700 Residential Units? No new office space? Hmmmm.
Now for the Retail Space:
"In addition to anchor stores Nordstrom, Macy's and Dillard's, a Harmons grocery store will be built on the south side of Social Hall Avenue.
Nordstrom will be a two-story, 124,000-square-foot store in the middle of the block on West Temple. Fellow anchors Macy's and Dillard's will be located on the east side of Main Street. Macy's will be a three-story, 150,000-square-foot store on the north end of the block near South Temple. Dillard's will be located near the southwest corner of the block and be roughly the same size as Macy's.
Approximately 400,000 additional square feet of retail space — enough for more than 100 stores — will line the pedestrian walkways and link the anchor stores. Bills said no other retail tenants for the project have been announced." (ibid)
That is a total of 674,000 feet of retail space, some landscaping and 700 residential units. All for the not so tidy sum of 10 billion dollars. To compare and contrast, here is the Southgate project in Provo, Utah:
"Southgate would cover 59 acres, with 450,000 square feet of commercial retail space in Phase I. That phase would cost about $45 million. About 225,000 square feet of office space would be built in Phase II, which would cost $25 million to $30 million, Boyer senior vice president Mark Pace said.
A proposed site plan shows three office buildings and 23 shops, many of them small and scattered around the parking lot in a way similar to The Meadows in American Fork." (Source)
So, the LDS Church is purportedly spending 8-10 billion dollars for a project that is only worth what they originally budgeted for it, 350 million dollars. For 7 Billion they could have gotten all of this in Abu Dhabi, where labor and materials are much more expensive than in the States:
LDS Church "City Creek Construction Project"
Mohammad Bin Zayed City
7 Billion Dollars in Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi has unveiled a $7.1bn towers project in Mohamed Bin Zayed City designed to house over 50,000 residents. The project calls for the development of 347 towers within five sectors of the city, each developed as self contained living areas with retail and leisure facilities. KEO International Consultants is the master planner and project manager. Abu Dhabi Municipality is the developer. (Source)