Key takeaways about the LDS Church’s huge stake in downtown SLC

Besides major religious buildings, the faith owns thousands of housing units, office towers and large parking stalls, where future development could occur.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Large chunks of downtown Salt Lake City are owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, including the parking lot at West Temple and 500 South, pictured on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022.

The substantial chunk of Salt Lake City’s downtown real estate owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is likely to give the faith a big say in how the heart of the city develops.

A new analysis of property records by The Salt Lake Tribune published Monday has revealed the church owns nearly a quarter of the entire value of land and buildings in the urban core, with a portfolio of almost 150 acres estimated at $2.3 billion.

[Read the full story, titled “Vast LDS lands offer clues to how downtown Salt Lake City will grow.”]

Having such a dominant player in downtown landownership has profoundly shaped the city center already, most notably with City Creek, the 40-acre retail and residential development on Main Street built by the church’s City Creek Reserve and opened in 2012.

A look at other properties the church owns offers additional hints about downtown’s future.

Here are some key findings:

• Beyond familiar landmarks such as the Salt Lake Temple, Tabernacle and the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, the church owns almost 10 blocks in the east-west corridor between North Temple and South Temple as well as hundreds of other parcels scattered nearby.

• Its holdings include administrative buildings, luxury retail spaces, more than one million square feet of high-end office space, nearly 9,260 housing units ranging from small apartments to luxury condos and lots of parking stalls.

• Land managers at church-owned real estate companies such as Property Reserve and City Creek Reserve have shown a strong preference for mixing land uses in their major downtown developments. They’ve built residential towers as part of the City Creek retail hub, helped recruit a grocery store downtown and meshed the ground floors of two recently built office high-rises — 111 Main and 95 State at City Creek — with surrounding buildings.

• That all matters because sizable portions of the church’s downtown land is now surface parking, including two full city blocks at West Temple and 500 South and at North Temple and 200 West. Those properties and several smaller ones are ripe for future development, though on a timeline likely to span generations.