ST. GEORGE – A redevelopment project proposed for downtown St. George is moving ahead thanks to the unanimous approval of a collection of measures by the City Council last week.
The redevelopment project, called “City View,” is slated to bring a mix of commercial and residential space to the heart of the downtown area and could break ground later this year.
Before the project can proceed, however, City View developers need permission to demolish a historic structure known as the George W. Worthen Home located at 32 West Tabernacle.
The City Council approved the demolition of the building, but only after the developer works with the city’s Historic Preservation Commission to see if anyone is interested in moving the building – provided it can be moved at all.
City View, a $30 million project, is located on the block between Main Street, St. George Boulevard, 100 West Street and Tabernacle Street and will consist of three separate buildings standing three to four-stories tall.
A four-story, 60-room boutique hotel is slated to go on the corner of Main Street and St. George Boulevard. Sitting on the west side of the hotel will be a four-story, mixed-use building with commercial space on the bottom and residential apartments on the top floor.
A third building, another mixed-use complex that will stand at three-stories, will face Tabernacle Street.
Altogether, City View will offer 110 residential units and 100,000-square-feet of commercial space. Set between the buildings will be a public park area that will also tie into the Green Gate Village. Parking for the development will be underground.
The architecture for the buildings will match the historic look of the area. The 60-room boutique hotel will also be called the “Snow House,” in reference to the home of Erastus Snow, a prominent figure and leader in the community in the 1800s.
The project will add to the city’s ongoing efforts to keep the downtown center alive, well and attractive to residents and newcomers alike.
“This has only been about 30 years worth of planning on the city’s part,” City Manager Gary Esplin said. Esplin has long been a proponent of the revitalization of the downtown area.
Projects involved in rejuvenating the downtown area in recent years have included the creation of the Town Square and the Electric Theater Center. Events are held in the downtown area on a regular basis as well, like the monthly George Street Fest, and work also continues to make the area a thriving arts district.
While adding additional retail space – something the downtown needs more of, Esplin said – City View will also provide additional residential housing which is currently in short supply. Vacancy for apartments and similar units is currently less than 1 percent in St. George.
The proposed City View development also falls within the city’s Central Business District Community Development Area, or CDA. This grants the project and others within the zone tax incentives.
Qualifying projects within the CDA have property taxes frozen in their first year for a period of 15 years. Monies from subsequent tax increases during that time will in turn be applied to projects inside the CDA that make various infrastructure improvements to the area.
While the project could break ground in November or December, City View developers need permission to demolish the George W. Worthen Home.
Located at 32 West Tabernacle, the home was originally built and owned by Orson Pratt, an apostle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sometime after 1862, according to the Washington County Historical Society.
The home was eventually sold to Joseph Bentley, who married Maggie Ivins. The home was then bought by George W. Worthen when the Bentleys and the Ivins moved to Mexico. The property and home was later bought by Melvin T. Bowler.
Today the home appears largely empty, unused and not in the best of shape.
The city’s Historic Preservation Commission discussed the building’s designation as a historic landmark and concluded it was due more to the age of the structure rather than overall significance.
The possibility of having the building relocated was also discussed. Whether that can be accomplished without the building falling apart is another question.
The city should preserve historic buildings as much as possible, Councilwoman Bette Arial said, yet added this particular structure shouldn’t stand in the way of the City View project.
“This one is standing in the way of a really wonderful development that’s going to transform our downtown,” Arial said.
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