SALT LAKE CITY — The friends and family of noted downtown real estate developer Vasilios Priskos, who died Monday at the age of 53 following a long battle with cancer, are invited to attend Holy Trinity Cathedral on Friday, Oct. 13, from 6-9 p.m. Trisagion prayer service will be at 8 p.m.
Funeral services will be held Saturday, Oct. 14, at 10 a.m. at Holy Trinity Cathedral with interment at Mount Olivet Cemetery.
Priskos was just 2 years old when his parents brought him to the U.S. from a tiny village on the Greek island Evia, but as an adult he would make a big, and lasting, impact on his family's new home in Salt Lake City.
His passing was noted by the many individuals, businesses, churches and community organizations he became connected with as a developer who helped shape and modernize downtown Salt Lake City.
Priskos worked at the downtown restaurant his parents opened in 1981, Royal Burger (later to become Royal Eatery) while a student at Skyline High School. He would go on to earn a degree in finance from the University of Utah and, just four years after graduating, opened the real estate firm InterNet Properties.
Priskos was a particular champion of Main Street, a busy retail anchor throughout most of the city's history but one that underwent an exodus in the late ’90s through the early 2000s as businesses opted for newer locales in malls and shopping centers outside the downtown core. Priskos helped revive the area, being unafraid to take over troubled properties and choosing to see a downtown that could be, amid the numerous empty storefronts.
While helping businesses like Eva's Bakery, Mollie & Ollies, Whiskey Street, Caffé Molise and Apollo Burger get established downtown, Priskos devoted time to numerous community organizations. Those included the Salt Lake Chamber, Children's Museum, Salt Lake City Police Foundation, Utah Heritage Foundation, 2002 Olympics Committee, Westminster College Foundation and others. He was also a member of the National Hellenic Society and Leadership 100, two groups committed to the preservation of Hellenic heritage and culture.
Salt Lake Chamber President and CEO Lane Beattie lauded Priskos for his years of service to the organization and his dedication to improving the city's commercial business district.
"Vasilios was one of the chamber’s great leaders," Beattie said in a letter to Salt Lake Chamber board members. "He was a visionary developer, a true champion of downtown Salt Lake City and an integral part in the success we’ve seen with the Downtown Rising plan. His energy and enthusiasm for this community was unsurpassed, and he will be greatly missed by all."
Downtown Alliance Executive Director Jason Mathis noted Priskos' work on not only improving downtown, but working to preserve and protect its historical architecture.
"Vasilios was a unique talent and passionate advocate for downtown," Mathis said in a statement. "Nobody has loved our urban center more or been a greater champion for our community. His legacy will live on in projects like Neumont University, a revitalized Main Street and the rehabilitation of historic downtown buildings into offices, restaurants, bars and homes.
"Downtown lost a great friend and leader today."
Priskos worked closely with the real estate arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Property Reserve Inc., on many projects over the years.
“We worked with Vasilios on a number of daunting downtown challenges," said City Creek Reserve President Mark Gibbons. "His creativity and tenacious commitment helped us find solutions and get things done. He will be sorely missed.”
In one of his last major projects, Priskos purchased and renovated the historic Ezra Thompson building at 143 Main. The building was completed in 1924 and, according to the Utah Heritage Foundation, was the only art-deco highrise built in Salt Lake City. It would later become the long-time home of the Salt Lake Tribune, but following the paper's move to the Gateway Mall in 2005, the building had sat vacant. Priskos worked with the private school, Neumont College of Computer Science, to transform the structure into the current facility, which houses classroom and lab space, as well as student housing, for the institution.
Neumont President Shaun McAlmont called Priskos a "visionary extraordinaire" and said his attention to detail and committment to preserving as much original character as possible of the historic building was key to the project. He also noted that Priskos continued to show how much he cared about Neumont's success, well after the construction work was completed.
"Vasilios was not only a great business man, but an incredible human being," said McAlmont. "His kindness and patience was known to us all. No matter how busy he was, he always had time to stop and inquire about how we were and how Neumont was doing.
"He is no longer with us, and he will be dearly missed, but his legacy will live on in all he did to create a unique experience for all who work and live downtown."