Getting Higher | Urban Living
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Getting Higher

I don't like to sleep above the eighth floor.



The world's tallest structure—the Burj Khalifa in Dubai—is 2,722 feet high. I'll never ride any of its elevators to the top because I'm somewhat afraid of heights. That may sound funny coming from a native New Yorker, but my fear was born at the age of 10 when I went to the Grand Canyon and was forced to sit on the edge of a cliff and throw pebbles at the river below. Then, after the Twin Towers came down in the 9/11 attack, we learned that fire ladder trucks can't reach higher than the eighth floor of a building. Thus, when I'm staying in a hotel, I don't like to sleep above the eighth floor.

Wikipedia says that Utah's tallest building is the Wells Fargo Center in downtown Salt Lake City, which is 422 feet tall with 26 floors. The LDS Church office building is only 420 feet tall, but it has 28 floors. Our newest building that's almost ready to open (and is 80 percent leased out already) is 111 South Main, which is 380 feet off the ground. Remember that downtown is not on the flat valley floor of this old Lake Bonneville bed, but on a hill that begins with homes behind the Capitol and then levels out as you drive down State Street at about 900 South.

The Salt Lake City Council has just approved new zoning so that an enormous convention hotel can be built on Salt Lake County land, aka the Salt Palace Convention Center. County Mayor Ben McAdams requested that the height limit of 75 feet at that site be changed to allow a 375-foot-tall convention center hotel somewhere on the Salt Palace grounds between South Temple and 200 South, and from West Temple to 200 West. Everyone thinks that's a grand idea for better services for future conventions, except the folks who bought into the LDS Church's 99 Building on the southeast corner of West and South Temple. Those folks paid the highest price per square-foot ever recorded for a Salt Lake City condo for the privilege of having killer sunset views. Salt Lake Councilperson Adams said that their views would not be affected by the planned construction, but I don't think that's a guarantee.

Conventions bring a shit-load of business to our state, from the Sundance Film Festival to the Outdoor Retailer trade show. Grand and Little Americas have 755 rooms and a new hotel at the Salt Palace could easily offer 800 rooms and when completed allow us to bid on bigger events to come to the state. And P.S. the supposed law that no building can be higher than the LDS Church Office Building is actually nothing more than an urban legend.