And now we know where.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Wednesday that its Tooele Valley Utah Temple will be built on the northwest corner of state Route 36 and Erda Way.
At three stories high and approximately 70,000 square feet, the Tooele Valley Temple will be the same size as the Latter-day Saint temple in Orlando, Florida, and 10,000-square-feet larger than the Oquirrh Mountain Temple in South Jordan.
Many Tooele residents speculated that the new temple would be built in Erda after it was announced by President Russell M. Nelson during the church’s April 2019 General Conference. The church owns 171 acres of farmland near SR-36 and Erda.
That speculation heightened in July after the church purchased the 2.98-acre parcel on the corner of SR-36 and Erda Way where Virg’s restaurant sits.
Other than announcing that an adjacent 20,000-square-foot meetinghouse will also be built as part of the temple project, detailed design plans for the structure have not been released.
Dave Law, owner of Virg’s Restaurant, said he has had discussions with representatives of the church, but the long-term future of Virg’s is still undetermined.
“I have a month-to-month lease right now,” he said.
Law said he has operated Virg’s Restaurant at the Erda location for 23 years.
Owners of the Motor Vu Theater, which is east of SR-36 from the announced temple site, are keeping an eye on temple plans for potential impact on their business.
“After 70 years of operation, and many changes to the valley, we do not plan to sell our business with this latest change. The owners plan to remain a part of the Tooele County landscape for many years to come. We plan to closely follow how the developments around the proposed site will be developed, lit, and any proposed/needed expansion to either Erda Way or SR-36 that may impact us happen,” said the owners of the Motor Vu Theater on their Facebook page.
Church officials said further information, including interior and exterior renderings, will be made public later. A groundbreaking date has not yet been set.
Project leaders will begin working with “city” officials on preliminary plans for the temple, and they will start filing public documents in the coming months, according to church officials.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has grown in Tooele County over the last two decades.
Twenty years ago there were five Latter-day Saint stakes in Tooele County; today there are 11. Six stakes are centered in Tooele City, two in Grantsville, two in Stansbury Park, and one in Erda. A stake is a regional organization composed of several wards, or local congregations.
Also in Tooele County, Wendover and Ibapah, along with West Wendover, Nevada, are part of a mission district, an organization similar to a stake.
For Latter-day Saints, temples are not regular places of Sunday worship. They are quite different from regular chapels or meetinghouses, according to newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org, an official website of the church.
Latter-day Saint temples are considered houses of God, a place of holiness and peace separate from the preoccupations of the world. They provide a place where church members make formal promises and commitments to God. They are also the place where the highest sacraments of the faith occur — the marriage of couples and the sealing of families for eternity, according to the church’s website.
The Tooele Valley Temple will be the 21st temple in Utah for the church. There are 17 operating temples in the state, including Bountiful, Brigham City, Cedar City, Draper, Logan, Jordan River, Manti, Monticello, Mount Timpanogos, Ogden, Oquirrh Mountain, Payson, Provo City Center, Provo, St. George, Salt Lake, and Vernal. Three more temples in Saratoga Springs, Layton and Washington County have been announced.