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LDS Church eyeing Triad Center

S.L. Council to mull plan tonight that would facilitate buy

Published: Tuesday, June 8 2004 12:00 a.m. MDT

The LDS Church's potential bid to purchase the Triad Center and its surrounding grounds hits City Hall tonight as the Salt Lake City Council considers a move that would help facilitate the buy.

Already The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — through various business interests — owns a good portion of Block 84 where the Triad Center sits. Now the church's Corporation of the Presiding Bishop is asking the RDA Board, which is the City Council, to allow it to take over the RDA's nonfinancial property interest in the Devereaux House, located on the block's southern portion.

Alyn Lunceford, real estate and debt manager for the Utah State Division of Facilities Construction and Management, said the church's request comes as it is exploring whether it can buy the Triad Center block.

"They are exploring the option of purchasing the Triad block," he said. "This is not a secret deal or anything, but like everything the bishopric does, they like to keep it quiet."

The RDA's approval is necessary if the church is to snatch up the rest of Block 84 — owned by the state of Utah and M&S Triad Center LP.

Lunceford said the church hasn't approached him with any deal to purchase portions of the block — set between 300 and 400 West and South and North Temple streets — from the state. Instead, Lunceford said, the church is clearing any hurdles that might derail a potential purchase if a deal can be put together.

The state has a fairly low interest in its Block 84 real estate. The land doesn't make the state any money, but it doesn't cost any more either and there are now state offices there, Lunceford said.

"It doesn't hold a great deal of significance," he said.

On the other hand, M&S, which owns most of the Triad Center and surrounding block, is looking to sell, Lunceford said.

"It's a losing proposition for them," he said. "The building has too much vacancy."

Owning the entire block would pad the church's already hefty downtown property portfolio, which includes most of the six blocks between North and South Temple from 100 East to 400 West.

RDA Board Chairman Eric Jergensen said that as the church researched its plan to purchase Triad, it discovered a 22-year-old, nonfinancial lease the RDA had on the Devereaux House portion of the block near South Temple.

The RDA had created the Devereaux House lease in 1982 so the former property owners could use a government grant to do some historic restoration on the old building. To qualify for the grant, the RDA had to have some sort of property interest in the house, RDA executive director David Oka said.

If the church does purchase the remainder of Block 84 (it already owns large portions of the block through two church subsidiaries — Property Reserve Inc., the church's real estate development arm, and Bonneville International, owners of KSL-TV and KSL Newsradio, which have their studios at Triad Center), it would have amassed all of the land between North Temple and South Temple from 100 East to 400 West.

Those six blocks are on top of the church's additional stock of downtown property, including the two blocks where ZCMI Center and Crossroads Plaza malls sit.

The church is expected to incorporate much of that property in its estimated $500 million redevelopment plans for downtown. Those plans include establishing the LDS Business College campus and a Brigham Young University extension on the church's western downtown blocks along South Temple. The redevelopment will also include renovation of the Crossroads Plaza and ZCMI Center.

A church spokesman wouldn't give many specifics about a potential Block 84 purchase but only said it is interested.

"We are studying the feasibility of whether the Triad Center project would work as part of the church's contemplated development," church spokesman Dale Bills said. "We currently have no obligation to purchase the project."

A representatives of M&S didn't return calls for comment Monday.

The registered agent for M&S Triad, which is based in Larkspur, Calif., is the New York City-based CT Corporation System. The registered agent for CT Corp. is Salt Lake City attorney James R. Kruse, who did not return a call for comment Monday.

Jergensen said the RDA's permission is a "technicality" and he expects no opposition from the RDA board.

"We want to encourage economic development, not hinder it," he said, adding that the LDS Church has made no request to use RDA funds, loans or tax increments to facilitate either the Triad purchase or any of its redevelopment goals.


E-mail: bsnyder@desnews.com

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