The Grand America and the Flower Patch: Once controversial downtown property finally sold

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 11 2013 9:45 a.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — A property that once pitted one of Utah’s most prominent businessmen and Salt Lake City against two local entrepreneurs has been sold.

The parcel that houses the Flower Patch floral shop adjacent to the Grand America Hotel was officially transferred last week. The property at 500 S. State was the source of a contentious legal battle between the longtime property owners, the Salt Lake City Redevelopment Agency and billionaire Sinclair Oil magnate Earl Holding.

In 1994, the city's redevelopment agency declared the blocks around the Flower Patch blighted. Mac Livingston, one of the company’s original owners, fought that designation, calling it unconstitutional because it could force him to sell his property to Holding.

Livingston was reportedly offered $266,000 for the land under his flower shop, but he dug in his heels — not because the amount was insufficient, but because he resented being deprived of control over his business.

Livingston won his fight and the RDA reduced its blight designation, allowing the shop to stay while Sinclair built what is now the Grand America Hotel behind it.

Last week, the property was sold to Grand America Hotels & Resort, which contacted Greg Parrish, who owns the land where the Flower Patch sits, through his real estate agent.

“They made an offer and we decided to take it,” he said.

Parrish said he bought the property for $440,000 decades ago and was tendered what he described as a “fairer” proposal for it today and accepted this latest bid.

He said the money the company planned to use to remodel the building years ago — about $350,000 — was used instead to fight off the RDA and the Salt Lake City Council in its attempts to acquire the land through eminent domain, Parrish explained.

Despite the protracted legal wrangling, Parrish said he never was opposed to selling the property, but he felt that his company should have been fairly compensated for it. He said the company was never offered any money for the business, just the real estate it sat on, “at a reduced price.”

“We had an offer of $266,000 (in 2001), and I bought the property for $440,000 and felt that business was worth at least $500,000 at the time,” Parrish said. “It was our second best store (of 11 stores at the time).”

Originally purchased in February 1986, Parrish said he remembers the day he bought it.

"It had five motorcycles sitting out on the corner and two toilets,” he said.

After sprucing up the property from what had been a biker bar, he commented that holding onto that location was very profitable over the years.

“It was always one of our best flower locations,” Parrish said. “We operated and did very well.”

The Flower Patch is expected to complete its lease in March 2014. What the new owners plan to do with the property is unknown.

E-mail: jlee@deseretnews.com, Twitter: JasenLee1

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