A credit union last week rejected what it termed an "unreasonable" offer for purchasing a downtown Salt Lake hotel that city officials want to save from the wrecking ball because of its historic, and low-income housing value.

But Mountain America Credit Union is still bargaining informally with others interested in buying the Stratford Hotel, some of whom would like to see the building remain a single-room-occupancy hotel, the credit union said.Newport Development Co., a Provo firm, offered Mountain America $225,000 with a $105,000 down payment and asked the credit union to finance $140,000 of the deal, said Rowland Haycock, principal partner in Newport.

"Our intent was to restore the building to its 1909 form, and that meant there would be commercial space on the first floor and ... the second floor would be (renovated) to make nice living space for the people there," he said.

But Mountain America said the offer was unreasonable, especially given the building's appraised value of $670,000. "It was an offer we didn't explore because it appeared on the surface that it wasn't reasonable," said Mountain America Vice President Douglas Cline.

Haycock said today's real estate market was too soft to support that kind of asking price. "They couldn't get that much of it from anyone," he said.

Pete Suazo, executive assistant to Mayor Palmer DePaulis, who would like to see the building preserved for its historic value and to house low-income people, agreed with Haycock.

"I don't think that ($600,000 price) is realistic in term's of today's market," he said.

Haycock said the credit union harbors an ulterior motive. "I just figure they want to tear the building down and they don't care about the people," he said.

"I think he's expressing some sour grapes that we didn't accept his offer," Cline countered, saying Mountain America is holding informal talks with others, including developers, to sell the building and maintain it as a single-room occupancy hotel.

"We're exploring different situations with all kinds of different parties, we'll be looking at several different possibilities," he said.

No offers have been placed on the table but some have been aired, he said. Some developers who are committed to maintaining its single-room occupancy status are interested in buying the building, Cline said.

Nevertheless, Cline said Mountain America is bound to the best interests of its members and must sell the building at an appropriate price.

"I have received several letters from hotel owners ... and I have a list of addresses for single rooms for less than $200 a month. There's a plethora of them (single rooms) available," Cline said, suggesting there is little need for such housing.

Stratford tenants, some of them disabled and mentally ill, circulated a petition this month declaring that they wished the hotel to remain their home.

DePaulis has said he would like to see the building remain a single-room occupancy hotel because of its housing value and because of its historic significance.