In Pictures: First Step House brings new energy to old building

A former single-story office building is getting a second chance.  The First Step House is building a new campus at 440 South 500 East that will provide a recovery program and temporary residence for homeless veterans.   The project has used the exterior of the original structure, while adding a two-story entrance fronting 500 East and redesigning the interior to accommodate the new use.

The campus will include 50 beds consisting of 32 treatment beds and 18 transitional housing beds.  The transitional rooms will have shared bathrooms and a shared kitchen.

The original building had a larger setback from the sidewalk and had the entrance on the east side of the building away from the street.  The new project pushes the building closer to the street level with the main entrance on the east, street-facing side.

The First Step House organizations chose this location for a new campus because it is in close proximity to TRAX and the Smiths Food and Drug is a popular gathering place for residents that would use the services First Step House provides.

The project includes a potential second phase.  According to Shawn McMillen, the Executive Director of First Step House, the organization plans to eventually build a multi-services building that could be as tall as five stories on the adjacent surface parking lot.

“We want to be good neighbors,” said McMillen, in a February interview.  “The campus should enhance public safety in the neighborhood.”

Residents in the transitional housing will be required to have or be seeking employment.  According to McMillen, staff and security personnel will be onsite 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to ensure the safety and security for both clients at residents at the campus.

Former one-story office building that is now the First Step House. Photo from Google Street View.
Former one-story office building that is now the First Step House. Photo from Google Street View.
The southeast corner of the First Step House as seen from 500 East. Photo by Isaac Riddle.
The southeast corner of the First Step House as seen from 500 East. Photo by Isaac Riddle.
The street-facing side of the First Step House. Photo by Isaac Riddle.
The street-facing side of the First Step House. Photo by Isaac Riddle.
The northeast corner of the First Step House. Photo by Isaac Riddle.
The northeast corner of the First Step House. Photo by Isaac Riddle.
The northeast corner of the First Step House. Photo by Isaac Riddle.
The northeast corner of the First Step House. Photo by Isaac Riddle.
The First Step House is adjacent to the Seasons on the Boulevard. Photo by Isaac Riddle.
The First Step House is adjacent to the Seasons on the Boulevard. Photo by Isaac Riddle.
The south side of the First Step House is built right up to the southern property line. Photo by Isaac Riddle.
The south side of the First Step House is built right up to the southern property line. Photo by Isaac Riddle.

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Posted by Isaac Riddle

Isaac Riddle grew up just outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. He has a BA in English literature from the University of Utah and a Masters of Journalism from Temple University. Isaac has written for Next City, The Philadelphia Public School Notebook and Salt Lake City Weekly. Before embarking on a career in journalism, Isaac taught High School English in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia. Isaac is the founder of Building Salt Lake and can be reached at isaac@buildingsaltlake.com.