Modern three-story structure proposed

On Tuesday, April 14, the Lehi City Council was presented with a Hutchings Museum expansion update with new concept renderings. Daniela Larsen, Executive Director of the Museum and Dave Harris, an urban planner, who is consulting on the project initially presented the museum expansion concept in July of 2019. On Tuesday night, Harris presented an update and requested a letter of intent from the Council during their remote online meeting. The letter of intent was requested to aid in the museum’s hope to begin fundraising for the project and to show potential investors that the project has City support. 

The proposed three-story addition would include 70,000 square feet of museum and storage space with 20 feet high first-floor ceilings and the second and third-floor ceilings at 16 feet. The museum is looking to expand its offerings to include a performance space and plans to host internationally recognized exhibits. “We are working on becoming an accredited museum and we need to have certain ceiling heights and other [logistical] requirements to be able to do that,” Larsen has previously said.

The updated museum proposal includes a rectangular “block” modern building directly behind the current Hutchings Museum with a two to three-story parking garage directly behind the expansion. “The vision is a statewide, high-class museum. Built with museum standards,” said Harris when describing the architecture of the expansion. 

The proposed downtown expansion has an estimated price tag of nearly $14 million. The museum currently operates as a public-private partnership with Lehi City and receives $299,750 of taxpayer subsidies each year. Councilwoman Katie Koivisto expressed her opposition to any additional funding being given for the expansion, “I wouldn’t feel comfortable wanting to put more taxpayer dollars into maintaining this,” said Koivisto. “I don’t see this as an immediate need for the City with its funds.”

Councilman Mike Southwick, who serves as the City liaison on the museum board, ensured Koivisto that the expansion plan does not seek any additional City funds. “The plan all along has been to raise all of the $14 million,” said Southwick. 

Councilman Paul Hancock voiced his support for the project and the modern design. “It looks sharp and I like the renderings,” said Hancock. “I think it highlights the building. It makes it stand out more.” 

Mayor Mark Johnson agreed with Hancock, “I have seen the contrasting look of ultra-modern and old used elsewhere and it works,” Johnson said. 

One of the largest concerns raised by City staff and the Council was regarding parking. “I would feel much more comfortable knowing that we have the parking garage put into place before we build something like this because it is going to take away from the parking at the Legacy Center,” said Koivisto. The Council shared similar thoughts and said the parking garage is critical to the project moving forward. 

Overall, the Council had positive feelings toward the proposed expansion and highlighted potential benefits to the surrounding area. “This has the potential of being a real focus for downtown Lehi. This is something that could bring a lot of people downtown. It would encourage some development down the Main Street corridor.”  said Johnson. Councilwoman Paige Albrecht shared that sentiment, “I think this could rejuvenate Downtown and bring some traffic to help the businesses that are down there. If we can renovate the museum, while also provide a parking garage to help those surrounding businesses, I think it has a lot of potential.” 

The Council ultimately asked Jason Walker, Lehi City Administrator and Ryan Wood, Lehi City Attorney, to write a letter of intent for the museum. The letter of intent would express the City Council’s support for the museum expansion and also outline the project requirements, including parking minimums and adherence to the City development process. The City Council will review and formally vote on the letter of intent at a future meeting.

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