Downtown is just a big dust cloud of projects and planning these days. The old Union Pacific Railroad station (think where The Depot concert venue is located) will be the centerpiece of an eight-story, 225-room hotel and mixed-use planned development about to break ground. Vestar LLC is working on final approvals with city planners to tweak some of the blueprints. I've seen the drawings and it looks like a groovy way to preserve the existing Grand Train Hall in the center of the old railroad station and bring in a hotel with retail and food space to embrace the historic building. In maybe a year or two, you'll be able to take Trax to see a show at The Depot, and then afterward stagger to your hotel room in the same building. Next morning, wake up and have a bloody mary to welcome the new day.
Elsewhere, the BTG Wine Bar has moved with Caffé Molise from 100 South near the Salt Palace to the Eagle Building at 404 S. West Temple. The bar is in the garden level of the building and the café takes up the middle and top floors, complete with a new elevator to make it accessible. BTG Wine Bar and Caffé Molise's old location will most likely be demolished. I've seen plans for a huge convention hotel (with a connector tunnel under West Temple) that someday might be built on the site.
Almost every high-rise you see going up downtown is an apartment building. I'd love to report that great, low-income, affordable housing is as prevalent as parking tickets at a Jazz home game. But developers, in general, aren't building condos or anything for sale downtown—the money and incentives are in rental properties. There just aren't any incentives for developers to erect affordable housing, despite a few carrots being extended by Salt Lake City. Good news for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, City Creek and the church's various condo buildings: Sales for a new office on South Temple have essentially stopped because that project is almost sold out. Potential buyers have to now call and make an appointment to see any of the few models that are left there.
Finally: Head up the hill to East High School and get your dancin' shoes ready because Utah is going to be the location for High School Musical again. Disney will start filming early next year for its new direct-to-consumer streaming service, and, as in the past, hire oodles of local extras. If you're a wanna-be movie star, watch for the open call from Horizon Productions Inc.