These are Salt Lake City’s most expensive jewels when it comes to chunks of real estate, and they belong, in a sense, to everyone.
The city’s 10 priciest properties are all publicly owned, together worth at least $4.8 billion in full market value as assessed this year by Salt Lake County. The region’s new international airport, two hospital systems, a new prison and seats of government and gathering all make the list.
Quirks of Utah history have given many of these lucrative parcels some curious boundaries, lending an element of whimsy to what buildings they include and, in turn, their total valuation — especially given that most are unlikely ever to be sold.
What and where they are — and who owns them — all say a lot about Utah’s capital:
No. 1 — Salt Lake City International Airport, 37.6 acres, $835.3 million
The glittering new airport terminal owned by Salt Lake City debuted two years ago in a $4.1 billion first phase. State officials call it Utah’s largest ever public works project.
Of its total assessed value, almost all of it is the terminal, at $829 million, with the 37-acre rectangular piece of land it sits on assessed at about $6.3 million.
Dubbed a “cathedral of transportation,” the hub is now the 21st busiest in North America as travel continues to rebound amid pandemic recovery. The terminal’s new interior, concourses and parking facilities recently drew relatively high marks from passengers, who praised its security checkpoints, baggage claim and improved shopping and dining outlets.
No. 2 — University of Utah, east campus, 137 acres, $695.8 million
The first of four entries on the city’s 10 most valuable properties that belong to Utah’s flagship university, this swath takes in most of the Huntsman Center and all of Kahlert Village, the Eccles Student Life Center, Lassonde Studios and several other U. buildings west of the Fort Douglas TRAX station. The property also reaches north across Wasatch Drive to include the Eccles Broadcast Center and adjoining residential lots.
Records indicate this oddly shaped group of six contiguous lots first took form on paper in 1896, almost five decades after the U.’s founding. Its buildings make up about $614.3 million of the property’s assessed value, and the land, about $81.5 million.
The U.’s parcels on this list highlight its influential presence as a landowner. And, as a public, nonprofit educational institution, the U. is exempt from property taxes. It is also not governed by the city on land use and charts its own course with regard to planning and zoning on its total 1,534 acres.
No. 3 — University of Utah, west-central campus, 59 acres, $602.8 million
This sideways U-shaped property spans the heart of campus, with the U.’s Merrill Engineering Building at its north end, Kennecott Mechanical Engineering, Sutton Building, Browning Building on the west and the University Campus Store as well as the A. Ray Olpin Student Union and portions of Marriott Library on its south.
Construction on the parcel dates back to 1970, according to county records. Once again, the educational and support buildings on this cluster of four contiguous lots make up most of its value, worth $567.7 million compared to $35.1 million for the land. The property also holds multiple acres of green spaces and pedestrian walkways that thread through the campus.
No. 4 — Utah State Correctional Facility, 246 acres, $577 million
Utah’s new prison is a whopper as both the largest and the most westerly property on the city’s top 10 most valuable, at 246 acres west of the airport.
The site on the fringes of the Great Salt Lake cost at least $1 billion to obtain, prepare and construct, after state lawmakers voted in 2015 to shutter the prison in Draper, demolish it and offer that choice suburban spot for a new public development to be known as The Point. Razing of the old penitentiary is scheduled to start next week.
The new 1.3 million-square-foot building is worth $555.3 million, records say, and the land it occupies, about $21.7 million.
Nearly 2,400 inmates were moved from Draper to the new correctional facility in July. Hopes are the modern prison will be more conducive to better management and programming, but it’s been troubled in early months by staffing shortages, administrative issues, safety fears from guards and clouds of hungry mosquitoes that spawn in the surrounding wetlands.
No. 5 — Salt Palace Convention Center, south end, 9.7 acres, $451 million
Parcel boundaries cut downtown’s Calvin L. Rampton Salt Palace Convention Center into several separate lots and this southern most piece, which excludes the new 26-story Hyatt Regency Salt Lake hotel at West Temple and 200 South, is the most valuable.
The part of the Salt Lake County-owned convention center located on this lot makes up $432.9 million of its total assessed price tag, with the land valued at $18.1 million.
The parcel and portion of the building to the north ranks as the city’s 19th most valuable, at $180 million.
Officials hope the newly opened luxury hotel, with two large ballrooms, sizable meeting spaces and restaurants, will elevate the city’s status as a convention destination.
No. 6 — University of Utah, Presidents Circle, 44.2 acres, $417.6 million
This rectangular parcel west of University Street and south of 100 South on the U. campus takes in at least 12 major buildings surrounding Presidents Circle, from Gardner Hall on the north end to the Roy W. and Elizabeth E. Simmons Pioneer Memorial Theatre and Alice Sheets Marriott Center for Dance on the south.
That’s more than $391.4 million in buildings on land worth about $26.3 million.
No. 7 — Veterans Affairs Salt Lake City Health System, 80.8 acres, $380.9 million
Though near the U., the Veterans Affairs hospital site and extensive adjoining facilities belong to the U.S. government and center on the 121-bed George E. Wahlen Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
Included are more than a dozen buildings devoted to medical care for veterans, research, housing and administration, worth at least $310.5 million on land worth $70.4 million.
No. 8 — University of Utah, Rice Eccles Stadium, S. J. Quinney School of Law, 33.6 acres, $309.6 million
This property on the U. campus is two contiguous lots split by South Campus Drive, with most of Rice-Eccles Stadium, its massive parking lot and the Olympic Cauldron Legacy Plaza on the southern portion, along 500 South.
Sitting on the north side are the U.’s S.J. Quinney College of Law, Einar Nielsen Fieldhouse, the Thatcher Building for Biological and Biophysical Chemistry and a portion of the John and Marcia Price Arts Building.
Not surprisingly with that roster, buildings make up most of the parcel’s value, at $289.6 million, with land logged at $20 million.
So U.-owned properties among the top 10 make up $2 billion in value, or about 42% of that tally’s $4.8 billion total.
No. 9 — Primary Children’s Hospital, 10 acres, $286.9 million
The 289-bed acute care hospital for children is a nonprofit affiliated with the University of Utah School of Medicine and celebrated its 100th anniversary in May. It is a member of nonprofit Intermountain Healthcare’s network of hospitals, which also includes LDS Hospital in the Avenues.
Records indicate the U. owns much of the land occupied by the hospital’s facilities, to the tune of about $38 million. Buildings at the location are assessed at $275 million in value.
No. 10 — Utah Capitol, 20 acres, $262.6 million
Dedicated in 1916, Utah’s historic seat of government occupies a piece of property overseeing the Salt Lake Valley and holds the Senate and House chambers of the Utah Legislature and offices of the governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general.
The boundaries also span the West House Building, the East Senate Building and another state office building to the north. Altogether those structures, according to records, are worth $239.1 million and the land they are on, about $23.5 million.
Next on the list:
• George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Theater, 1.7 acres, $225.3 million — This lavish, 1,200-seat, Broadway-style performance hall located downtown is owned jointly by Salt Lake City, its Redevelopment Agency and Salt Lake County.
• 400 West Apartments, 5.9 acres, $215 million — This residential apartment complex at 255 N. 400 West next to Salt Lake Hardware is the highest valued privately owned property in Salt Lake City, held by Oakmont Properties in California.
• Amazon Fulfillment Center, 70.2 acres, $210.7 million — Opened in 2021, this 150,000-square-foot logistics center at 777 N. 5600 West is used for same-day delivery on hundreds of thousands of items sold by the online retailing giant.
• Well Fargo Center, 3.5 acres, $209.3 million — This privately owned parcel at 299 S. Main includes the iconic wedge-shaped Wells Fargo tower and ancillary building to its east along Gallivan Avenue.
• University of Utah, Research Park, 127 acres, $205.9 million — These seven lots in the U.’s Research Park at 480 S. Wakara Way include a School of Dentistry and Orthopaedic Center.
• LDS Conference Center, 10 acres, $205 million — Owned by Utah’s predominant faith, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the massive granite meeting hall at Main and North Temple sits across from the faith’s iconic six-spired temple, now undergoing a massive makeover.
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