East Salt Lake City’s Foothill Village has new owners, and they want to improve the longtime shopping center and make it a more family-friendly gathering place — not demolish it, like so many other commercial venues, to build housing.
Charlotte, N.C.-based Asana Partners has purchased the 67-year-old suburban retail hub at 1400 S. Foothill Drive for “just over $50 million,” said Reed Kracke, a managing director for the firm, which confirmed the sale closed late Wednesday.
The new investors are well aware of the 11-acre center’s standing with residents in surrounding neighborhoods, Kracke said, and they want to boost that value with a series of exterior renovations and improvements that enhance it as a neighborhood social hub.
Kracke said some neighbors of Foothill Village had speculated the site would be bought and torn down to make way for housing, in keeping with a prevailing pattern as Salt Lake City sees a historic spate of new apartment and condominium construction.
“That couldn’t be further from the truth in terms of our strategy,” he said in an interview. “The incredibly attractive part of Foothill Village is its iconic history and heritage, and that it’s been part of the fabric of that community for so long. That’s just something that can’t be re-created.”
In work that will begin early next spring, Asana wants to modernize the exterior facades and upgrade lighting and signs in its underground parking garage.
The center will remain anchored by Dan’s Fresh Market and other popular retailers, Kracke added, while the new owners take “a thoughtful approach” to matching the mix of other local and national retail tenants at Foothill Village to the needs of surrounding residents.
The firm also plans to modify the 30,000-square-foot space once occupied by Stein Mart at the heart of the property, he said. The vision now is to turn it into areas for smaller shops and eateries and move the building’s front to create a central plaza area, with outdoor dining.
According to Kracke, Asana wants to form “a place you can take your family on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday night and expect to run into five of your neighbors.”
Work on the two-story shopping center, located on heavily trafficked Foothill Drive, is set for completion by the end of 2022, he said.
First built in 1954 and extensively renovated and expanded in the late 1980s, the shopping center near the mouth of Emigration Canyon boasts about 65 retailers and assorted professional-services tenants spread over 270,000 square feet of space in five buildings.
In addition to Dan’s — one of only two major grocers across residential areas making up the city’s East Bench and Bonneville Hills neighborhoods — other well-known Foothill Village outlets include The Tutoring Toy shop and Honest Eatery. Another popular restaurant located at the mall, Red Butte Cafe, closed during the pandemic and will not be reopening, owners said. The site is now a temporary state liquor outlet.
Asana Partners is a privately held firm with regional offices in Denver, Los Angeles and Atlanta, and projects involving neighborhood retail and mixed-use properties in 21 major U.S. cities. This is its first in Salt Lake City.
Property records indicate the Foothill Village property was valued at $40.6 million for tax purposes as of earlier this year.