PBS: A special report on the Church's development plans for Salt Lake City

BOB ABERNETHY, anchor: Now, a special report on the rebuilding of Salt Lake City. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormons, are building an enormous new downtown development—high end shops, condos, and offices. Is that emphasis on wealth and consumerism compatible with Mormon values of modesty and thrift? Does it leave any room for the poor, or for the variety that helps make up vibrant city life? Lucky Severson reports from Salt Lake City.

LUCKY SEVERSON, correspondent: By the looks of things, downtown Salt Lake City has found the pot of gold at the end of the stimulus rainbow. Where else would you find 1600 construction workers on a project so immense it will transform the core of a city? But this is not stimulus money, not even one cent of local taxpayers’ money. This project, known as City Creek Center, is funded entirely by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormons, and their development partners. Stephen Goldsmith was the city planning director during the Salt Lake Olympics.

STEPHEN GOLDSMITH (Associate Professor of Architecture and Planning, University of Utah): This is unprecedented. This is the single largest private development project going on in the United States today.

SEVERSON: When it’s completed in 2012, the new city center, directly across the street from the church’s temple, will include millions of square feet of retail and office space. Only the church knows the price tag, and they declined to be interviewed for our story, but the project’s cost is expected to top $1.5 billion, a price they’re willing to pay to transform Salt Lake City.

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