The purchase of a Salt Lake City building complex may accelerate the Church's plans to move educational institutions downtown, Presiding Bishop H. David Burton said during a noon press conference Tuesday, June 22. Attending at the Devereaux House, a part of the transaction, were members of the Salt Lake City Council, Church representatives and the media.
Bishop Burton announced that the Church would complete its purchase of the Triad Center, a mixed-use office and retail complex, June 23. The Triad Center is located between North Temple and South Temple, three blocks directly west of Temple Square.
The purchase will enable the Church to proceed immediately with plans to move LDS Business College and BYU Salt Lake Center downtown, Bishop Burton said.
"We would hope design work could be done later this year for the renovation and retrofitting" of the Triad Center buildings for educational use, Bishop Burton added. While acknowledging that nothing is as simple as it may seem, he said, "Everything else being equal, this should give us a jump start" on moving the two schools. He projected that the new facilities may be ready for students as soon as the 2006 academic year.
The plan for moving the schools downtown was first mentioned during a press conference last October. Plans, part of a broad overview for the revitalization of the area around Temple Square, called for the building of new campuses for the schools on a parking lot owned by the Church a block east of the Triad Center, it was announced then.
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Bishop Burton said the new plans not only allow the possible opening date of the schools to be moved up, but also gives the Church more flexibility on how to use the parking lot property. He said it may be used in the future to accommodate growth for the schools or Church facilities.
The latest purchase includes three office towers 3 Triad Center, 4 Triad Center, 5 Triad Center and two parking structures on the north and west sides of the 10-acre block. The transaction also includes transfer of long-term subleases from the State of Utah for approximately three acres of the block that include the Devereaux House.
One of the buildings is already owned by Church-affiliated Bonneville International. Also, a surface parking lot on the southwest corner of the block is owned by Property Reserve Inc., which is Church affiliated. That lot gives the Church flexibility for future development. He also said it is possible to add to campus space by building on top of one of the existing parking structures on the block.
After announcing the purchase and answering questions from members of the city council as well as the media, Bishop Burton led a short tour of the property.
The first stop was on part of the Devereaux House acreage. Bishop Burton said the lease of that property was important to the overall plan because it adds amenities attractive to the educational facility. Those include open areas landscaped with trees and lawns.
Then Bishop Burton led the group to the vacant third floor of the Triad Center building on the corner of 300 West and North Temple. There he said that a good part of the 500,000-square-foot complex about 100,000 square feet is already vacant and available for plans to quickly go forth with renovating it into classrooms and other educational facilities. He also said that the buildings are in good condition and have been well maintained.
Plans for the future of the complex would be discussed with the current business tenants, Bishop Burton said, with accommodations made as needed. He said it was unlikely the schools would occupy all of the property when they open.
About the need for parking and transportation, Bishop Burton said, "That is probably one of the great aspects of this facility." He said there are 12,000 parking spaces on the block, and additional parking in the lot to the east. He also noted, "I don't know of a site I can think of that is closer to transportation of all kind." He listed proximity to light rail, commuter rail and bus routes as well as the fact that the property is only a few blocks from two Interstate-15 interchanges.
Though LDS Business College and BYU Salt Lake Center will be in the same complex, they will retain their separate identities.
President Stephen Woodhouse of the business college said enrollment is currently being managed at 1,300 students. "We could grow if we wanted to," he said, but then noted that one of the advantages of the school is its small size. Bishop Burton said there have been no decisions made yet concerning what to do with the current LDS Business College campus, located at 411 E. South Temple in Salt Lake City.
BYU students will make up the balance of the approximately 5,000 students expected to be on campus during the course of a typical school day. Bishop Burton said BYU will add a few full academic programs to what is already being offered at the center currently on Salt Lake's east side.
Bishop Burton reiterated that the purchase of the Triad Center is part of the Church's efforts to revitalize downtown Salt Lake City and protect the environment of Temple Square. He said a vibrant downtown is an asset to the Church because the city is the international headquarters of the Church. "People who understand the Church understand our presence here," he said.
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