SALT LAKE CITY - Questar Corp. will move its headquarters into a new building at 333 S. State by January 2012.  The new structure is part of Downtown Rising and will be certified to meet strict energy efficiency requirements, all at a cost of about $45 million. 

However, natural gas customers have no need to fear price increases, according to Questar CEO and President Ron Jipson. A 17-year lease for the new building is close to the cost of Questar's existing building on the corner of 100 South and 200 East. The Questar lease there expires in 2012, so the corporation has been looking at new office space for about a year.

The new building will house about 600 employees of three Questar companies: Questar Gas, Questar Pipeline and Wexpro. The move is not directly related to spinoff corporation QEP Resources, which is headquartered in Denver, Jipson said.

"We're going to be able to move into the new building at the same cost, and it will be designed around our needs," he said of the 170,000-square-foot space. "Our operation costs are going to be lower because of the energy efficiency."

The new building is designed in a tripartite style, with a wide base complemented by a main rectangular shaft and an attic. It will be built in the parking lot of the Chamber of Commerce building, right across from Salt Lake's Library Square. Parking will be included underground.

Questar Corp. will be the sole office tenant, but there may be space on the bottom floor for a restaurant or a few shops, said Zions Bank Chairman Harris Simmons.

Construction is set to begin in August, and initial building plans are starting the city approval process Wednesday. The project is designed to keep or create more than 400 jobs with a combined 270,000 labor hours and is one of the largest bank-financed projects planned for the downtown area.

Zions Bank stepped up to fund the project, showing what Utah Gov. Gary Herbert called a dedication to downtown Salt Lake. Herbert added that though the national economy is still faltering, this new building shows that Utah is starting to turn the corner with help from Questar, which provides among the lowest natural gas rates in the country.

"It's impressive how much the private sector adds to our economy," he said. "My job as government is to stay off your backs and out of your wallets."

According to Herbert's spokeswoman, Angie Welling, 333 S. State will be one of the few projects in the downtown area that will not benefit from tax incentives.

Wasatch Commercial Management will own the building, which is expected to last 50 years or more. With low interest rates and even lower building costs, now is the time to take on construction projects, said Wasatch President Dell Loy Hansen.
"We think it's the exact time to finance and build," he said. "We're taking advantage of a weak economy."