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Temple Square construction delay affecting local tourism

Posted at 5:47 PM, Mar 28, 2023

SALT LAKE CITY — With a year recently added to the completion of construction on Temple Square, one of Salt Lake City's biggest tourist attractions, many are wondering what effect the delay will have on the local economy.

The landmark is now set to be completed in 2026.

“This iconic structure that represents so much of what the Latter-day Saints believe," said President of Ensign College, Bruce Kusch, who goes to devotional in the square once a week.

Since 2019, echoes of construction have sounded throughout the square. Kusch is one of many waiting for the day when the renovated temple will reopen.

“People, probably millions, will come from around the world to see this building,” he said.

The Church said the delay is mainly because of the magnitude of the seismic retrofit to prevent or reduce earthquake damage of the building.

Tyler Gosnell serves as the Chief Brand & Marketing Officer of Visit Salt Lake and says Temple Square is the number one place in the city people from around the world come to see.

“Temple Square has historically been our most popular visitor attraction attracting approximately 3-to-5 million annual visitors," said Gosnell.

He added that it's hard to gauge how the construction has impacted Salt Lake economically in terms of tourism, but said it's clear it draws people in, and millions more will come once it's completed.

“It's having them come to see our great landmark and stay overnight and to eat at our restaurants and go shopping and visit a museum," Gosnell said, "Those are the areas in which it continues to drive economic impact, that's so important to our economy.”

The delay also means another year of nearby temples continuing to take in the busy overflow of those who used to attend the temple in downtown.

“We know that that's certainly an issue with this temple being closed. People are where we live geographically, we're assigned to certain temples," said Kusch, "And so people that were part of the Salt Lake Temple District have had to go to other temples."

But Kusch said no matter how long the renovations take, they will be worth it in the long run.

“It's wonderful to see the things that they're doing and to know what is being done and why it's being done," he said, "To strengthen the building. To strengthen the foundation."