LDS Church buys lot near viaduct on North Temple

Real estate » Spokesman says 'no immediate plans for development.'
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Calling it an investment opportunity, the LDS Church has bought a 3.76-acre lot on the northeast corner of 400 West and North Temple in Salt Lake City.

A Gastronomy subsidiary, known as SLH NET, sold the land in a deal finalized last month. Terms were not disclosed.

"The land was purchased as a long-term investment with no immediate plans for development," LDS Church spokesman Scott Trotter said Tuesday.

The move follows the church's recent purchase of 13 downtown acres, including a block between 400 South and 500 South and West Temple and Main streets from Sinclair Cos., controlled by oil magnate Earl Holding. Church officials said that acquisition, estimated around $25 million, also is a long-term investment.

Gastronomy's sale of the parking lot just north of the Triad Center will not affect funding plans for a new North Temple viaduct, according to the city's engineering director.

"That really doesn't change the way the special assessment area is structured," John Naser told the council Tuesday.

The city is finalizing plans for an assessment area that would affect four property owners and cover 14 parcels. Naser notes two of the owners, including The Boyer Co., have filed written protests against the assessment proposal.

The city also is establishing a Community Development Area (CDA), covering at least four surrounding blocks, to help foot the cost of the planned $71 million viaduct rebuild. The new viaduct -- crews could begin construction this spring -- is a key cog for a planned TRAX train to Salt Lake City International Airport.

The LDS Church's latest purchase will have no impact on the CDA, which is designed to tap property taxes from the Salt Lake City School District and Salt Lake County, both of which own land nearby.

City officials estimate they can raise $25 million over 25 years through the CDA. But much of that depends on a $100 million development plan from Gastronomy, which still owns the spacious lot directly north of its Salt Lake Hardware Building.

Gastronomy, known for its chain of restaurant, envisions a $65 million office park plus $35 million in new housing. Planners and politicians consider the development paramount for a new northern gateway that one day could greet streetcars zipping back and forth from Davis County.