EnergySolutions founder buys Trolley Square

Published: Friday, April 19 2013 3:05 p.m. MDT

Khosrow Semnani, former owner of EnergySolutions, talks Friday, April 19, 2013, about his purchase of Trolley Square in Salt Lake City.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — A company headed by the founder of the business now known as EnergySolutions has purchased the historic Trolley Square Shopping Center.

S.K. Hart Properties LC announced the acquisition Friday.

The landmark property in Salt Lake City has been a staple of the community for many years but has faced challenges recently due to the severe downturn in the economy and went into receivership late last year.

S.K. Hart Properties LC, an affiliate of S.K. Hart Management LLC, is a Utah-based private investment management firm with diversified investments in real estate and companies operating in various industries worldwide. Headed by Iranian-born Utah businessman Khosrow Semnani, the company has significant commercial property holdings in Utah and California.

Semnani founded Envirocare in 1988. The company later changed its name to EnergySolutions when it was purchased by Steve Creamer in 2004.

The new owner said the company plans to make significant upgrades and improvements to Trolley Square while retaining its historic integrity and charm.

“This is a very exciting transaction for our company, the state of Utah and the city of Salt Lake as a whole,” said Semnani, CEO of S.K. Hart Properties.

“While the center poses certain challenges, we are excited to return Trolley Square to its former glory, while simultaneously having a positive impact on the local neighborhood and the community at large," he said. "Despite the economic downturn, the current businesses at Trolley have continued to survive and thrive and we intend to complement them by bringing in first-class retailers and restaurants from around the country, as well as local retailers.”

In November, the 3rd District Court of Salt Lake City appointed Bill Hoffman, CEO of San Diego-based Trigild, as receiver of the historic property.

Situated on 13.5 acres, the 318,562-square-foot, two-story retail center is located at the corner of 600 South and 700 East.

The once-thriving retailer and entertainment center with more than 40 tenants had been in financial distress recently and was the subject of two lawsuits.

One suit filed by Bank of America in November claimed that then-property owner Trolley Square Associates defaulted on a loan and owed more than $57.6 million. The lawsuit stated that Trolley Square failed to act in accordance with loan documents and turn over income generated by the shopping center once the loan went into default.

It was Bank of America that asked the court to appoint a receiver to run the mall in an effort to secure and collect rents from tenants, as well as maintain the property.

Another lawsuit filed by maintenance and engineering firm Sentinel Building Services accused Trolley Square Associates, management company Unico Properties and senior property manager Dawn Katter of failing to correct several building, fire, health and safety code issues at the property.

That suit alleged that Trolley Square's owners and management conspired to avoid spending the money necessary to make the repairs needed to bring the mall into compliance with building, health, fire and safety codes.

The suit, which sought punitive and general damages, also alleged that ownership and management wrongfully terminated the maintenance contract with Sentinel.

At the time, Trigild general counsel David Wallace said the company would work to improve the property with the eventual goal of finding a suitable buyer, ideally within about a year.

Semnani said each of the lawsuits have been resolved and his company has a plan to restore Trolley Square to its once-prominent status in Salt Lake City.

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