Utah Stories

Salt Lake’s Biggest Jungle Gym

Affordable housing project likely to be sent to foreclosure.


A project on State Street that would have included affordable housing for low-income families has hit a roadblock and stands partially framed. Photo by Mike Jones

Covered in tags and graffiti, the property located on 245 South State Street, has become an eyesore. Utah Stories has spent three months working to learn more about this project and how it has become a  derelict slice of urban blight. Here is what we have learned…

In May of 2012 plans show for a mixed-use project patterned after a European-style plaza: “The Plaza at State Street” was slated to include 180 housing units, both income restricted and market value. Plans included a parking structure and ground floor commercial units. One side included an update of the Rex Theater retaining the original historical facade.

Unfortunately, in 2015, the project fell apart during partial construction. Tannach Properties purchased the land from the Redevelopment Agency of Salt Lake City (RDA) and started the project with funding from Citibank. In June of 2015, Citibank declared a default on the loan.

Subsequently, Tannach hired Wright Engineers to evaluate the condition of the structure, which was found to be deficient. Tannach concluded it was not “economically feasible to remediate structural deficiencies.” (From an informational timeline supplied by the RDA.) They subsequently withdrew from the development agreement.

Noting the city’s dedication to the project, the RDA looked for a replacement developer and chose Cowboy Partners, LLC, subject to approval by Citibank. Cowboy Partners proposed rehabilitating the site and developing the project to serve the needs of the community, including affordable housing for those earning 50% of the area’s median income. Support for Cowboy Partners’ plan was given by the RDA, state and local officials, affordable housing advocates and other stakeholders, but Citibank rejected the offer.

In August of 2016, despite a letter from Mayor Jackie Biskupski’s office supporting Cowboy Partners, Citibank will “likely pursue foreclosure.” If that happens, the RDA will lose legal rights to the property along with any say on the land use or design of a future development. Salt Lake City and the RDA are dedicated to bringing affordable housing to this area and fear that it will be lost if Citibank forecloses and sells the property to the highest bidder. 

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