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John Daley ReportingA major transformation is underway at the property that used to provide a variety of services for Utah's poor and homeless.
The new development will go in on a parcel of land just to the west of Pioneer Park and just to the east of the great historic Rio Grande railway building. It will be called the "Rio Grande Plaza at the Gateway."
Today the Salvation Army and the developer, U.S. Development, held a groundbreaking ceremony there.
The spot used to house the Salvation Army's soup kitchen, warehouse, family services and thrift store. That building was torn down to make way for "The Homewood Suites Hotel by Hilton"--a multi-use building, which will include 124 extended stay hotel rooms. But here's the truly innovative part of it: the Salvation Army will still own the property and lease it to Hilton.
After completion, up to 55 percent of the property's annual proceeds will go to support Salvation Army programs. It's a first of its kind idea for the Salvation Army.
Maj. Bruce Jones, Salvation Army: “We believe this venture in capitalism, community, and compassion will enhance the quality of life in many ways, for many people, for many years to come.”
Pamela Atkinson, Community Advocate: “When it's up and running, probably by the second year, a small stream will come in. By the third year, if it's all fully occupied, there could be as much as $500,000 a year to help with their programs."
Atkinson says services for the homeless formerly served at the old building will be picked up elsewhere, including by the soup kitchen one block north. The new building is expected to open in December of 2005.