By Sara Israelsen
Ownership of the Triad Center in downtown Salt Lake City may change hands, adding the majority of the 300 to 400 West block to the real-estate assets of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The Salt Lake Redevelopment Agency, RDA, in a meeting Tuesday night, approved the assignment of the lease to the LDS Church. Dave Oka, executive director of Salt Lake RDA, said this move helps facilitate whatever the Corporation of the Presiding Bishop wants to do in the future.
“We don”t know what they”re going to do,” Oka said. “We [the RDA board] would have to vote on that same motion, whether they enter into a lease or a purchase.”
The building, currently owned by the M&S Triad Center LP and the state of Utah, is expected to be considered by the LDS Church as a possible site of the BYU campus extension and future home of the relocated LDS business college.
However, Dale Bills, spokesman for the Church of Jesus Christ, told the Desert News that the LDS Church currently has no obligations to purchase the project, but is looking into the area.
“We are studying the feasibility of whether the Triad Center project would work as part of the church”s contemplated development,” he said.
Although the possible purchase of area in Block 84 would mean more Salt Lake land under the direction of the LDS Church, it doesn”t worry Eric Jergensen.
Jergensen, chair of the RDA Board of Directors for Salt Lake City said he thinks the possible purchase would benefit the city of Salt Lake.
“The church, in terms of property downtown…has done a tremendous job making sure their properties are supportive and contributing to the community,” Jergensen said. “This proposed use that the church has is a good idea. [It would] support the business that are around in the neighborhood, and [the college] would provide a tremendous boost for Salt Lake City.”
Jergensen also said he thinks the LDS Church is approaching the situation carefully and correctly, following the proper procedures for obtaining new land.
“The church does a very good job going about things appropriately – legally crossing all the t”s and dotting all the i”s,” he said.
But Jergensen was quick to point out that the RDA and Salt Lake City council are rarely, if ever, involved in private business ventures.
The Triad Center sits on property that is part of a long-term lease originally held by Salt Lake City. Now, because the city turned the lease over to the RDA, the council”s involvment extends only to legal logistics, as a neutral third party.
“We know nothing about the details,” Jergensen said. “We don”t need, nor will we know any details of the purchase. It [the lease] is just a technicality.”
This technical involvement from RDA and the city will in no way influence future land-use.
“The church will proceed forward with their plans,” Jergensen said. “This is simply a technical issue on some real-estate.”
Oka said future plans for the land are solely in the hands of the Corporation of the Presiding Bishop.
“We have no financial interest in this at all,” he said. “We were just more or less an appendage to this whole transaction. This was something that was incidental, it represented merely a housekeeping item.”