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Mormon church has built downtown housing; will people come?

Published September 28, 2011 4:56 pm

City Creek • Down economy makes condos a tough sell, but apartments are going fast.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The LDS Church has completed all of the 425 condominiums that will be part of its City Creek project when it opens next year. Now the tough part: Getting people to buy them.

The downtown Salt Lake City condos arguably present the most difficult marketing challenge in the massive mixed-use development, given the continued downturn in the residential market. Since construction on the retail-residential-office project began in late 2008, Utah's economy has deteriorated, and a booming real-estate market has given way to one plagued by falling prices and foreclosures.

"We have buyers sitting on the fence," said Mark Gibbons, president of City Creek Reserve, a development arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "They are either trying to get financing, which can be hard in this market, or they are trying to get another property sold."



Those who are buying, the church says, are a mix of LDS and non-LDS, empty nesters, young professionals and some families with children.

Condos initially were marketed in spring 2010 when the twin, 10-story Richards Court towers opened across from Temple Square at 45 W. and 55 W. South Temple. About two-thirds of the 90 units, priced from the $200,000s to more than $2 million, are still for sale. Eighteen units, nine of which have sold, have a "straight-on look into Temple Square," Gibbons said.

In February, the church began selling units in the 30-story Promontory tower, where prices started from $145,000 and now range from $235,000 to more than $1.5 million.

On the southeast corner of South Temple and West Temple, the 185-unit building is the largest and tallest residential structure at City Creek, church officials say. It's across from Temple Square and west of Richards Court, at 99 W. South Temple. Like Richards Court, two-thirds of the units remain for sale.

The 20-story Regent, built in a more contemporary style, is a block east, at 35 E. 100 South. Its 150 units were the last housing element to be completed in City Creek.

Units originally started at around $300,000 and went up to $1.7 million. Last summer, however, the church announced it had lowered prices, which now start in the mid- to high $100,000s. About a quarter of the units are sold, church representatives said.

Veteran Salt Lake City Realtor Babs De Lay, who specializes in the downtown area, said she is not surprised that the church's condos are selling slowly.

"It's an extremely tough real estate market," she said, even with the price reductions.

Although the bulk of the residential units in City Creek are condos, there are 111 apartments — and demand for the upscale units is high, church representatives said.

The church began leasing units in its City Creek Landing Apartments four weeks ago. "They are leasing even more rapidly than we expected," Gibbons said, noting that about half have been taken.

Rental rates range from $1,200 to $1,900 a month. Some studios were available for $860 — but they went first, and quickly. Some front Main Street, others the retail portion of the shopping center under the retractable roof.

"We're setting some new standards in rental rates for our marketplace," Gibbons said.

Two other buildings, housing about 200 more condos, are planned for City Creek, but construction may not begin for years.

"It's all a function of the real estate market," Gibbons said. "We're in an interesting market right now."

lesley@sltrib.com

Twitter: @cheapchick —

City Creek housing information

P For more information about the condos at City Creek, go to citycreekliving.com. For more information about apartments, go to citycreeklanding.com.

 

 

 

 

 

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