New operator takes control of Salt Lake’s Trolley Square
Retail • Receiver hopes to help troubled owner land new tenants ahead of sale of property.
Published: November 9, 2012 07:51PM
Updated: March 6, 2013 11:32PM
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Al Hartmann | The Salt Lake Tribune People shop at Trolley Square Tuesday November 6. Bank of America says the Oregon-based Trolley Square Associates, which operates the Trolley Square mall in Salt Lake City, has defaulted on millions of dollars in loans on the property.

Trolley Square has been placed into receivership.

Trigild, a San Diego-based real estate services company, was appointed earlier this week to take over the operation of the historic shopping center. Trigild said its goal is to bring in new tenants and improve the shopping experience for customers in preparation for an eventual sale of the property.

“We are well aware of Trolley Square’s importance in the Salt Lake City area, and we want to do everything we can to maintain and improve it,” said David Wallace, general counsel for Trigild.

Trigild was named receiver after Bank of America filed a lawsuit in Utah’s 3rd District Court claiming that the owner, Portland, Ore.-based Trolley Square Associates, owed it and other lenders $57 million. The bank said the owners failed to pay off their loans when they came due June 1.

Wallace said Trolley Square Associates and Bank of America agreed to Trigild’s appointment. “We have over 35 years of experience in property management and during that time we’ve served as the receiver for hundreds of different properties,” he added.

Trigild CEO Bill Hoffman said in a statement that Trolley Square, which has operated for decades, has more than 40 tenants.

“At this point, our role will be to make sure the mall operates efficiently and smoothly as we enter the busy holiday season, as well as [to] ensure that it is well maintained for shoppers who want to experience its to notch shopping venues and historic ambiance,” he said.

In asking for a receiver, Bank of America in its lawsuit argued that “because of the defaults . . . there is a substantial risk that Trolley Square will not properly maintain and insure the property, will not properly collect and remit rents, will not properly lease or rent vacant units in a commercially reasonable manner . . . (and) . . . will not act to protect lenders’ interest in the property, all to the potential irreparable detriment, harm and loss to lenders.”

Wallace said that, as the receiver, Trigild will be an independent, neutral party representing the interests of the owner and the lenders.

Tony Weller, owner of Weller Book Works, moved his store from Main Street to Trolley Square in early January. He said he is encouraged to hear “things are happening” and that the receiver is interested in bringing in additional tenants.

“Trolley Square is a gem in the northeastern part of the city, and I would hope that they (Trigild managers) recognize that all tenants are not equal ­— that they would take the time to get to know Trolley Square and come to understand that a lot of its value is as a boutique, artsy mall that can be a wonderful place for local merchants to operate.”

steve@sltrib.com