LDS church seeks to buy hotel for student housing

The Associated Press/January 12, 2006

Salt Lake City -- The real estate arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is negotiating to buy out the lease of a downtown Salt Lake City hotel so it can provide housing for students at a church-owned business school.

Church officials said Tuesday they hope to take ownership of the Salt Lake Plaza Hotel. The church already owns the land under the hotel.

"If negotiations are successful, the majority of the building will continue to operate as a hotel, with remaining space allocated for proposed use as housing for LDS Business College students," said Dale Bills, a church spokesman.

The LDS Business College is expected to move from its current location on South Temple Street into the Triad Center in fall 2006.

The LDS Church purchased the Triad Center, located downtown between North and South Temple, in June 2004.

Salt Lake City officials have said the relocation of the business college and Brigham Young University's Salt Lake Center, also to be moved to the Triad Center, are key to an overall downtown revitalization plan.

In 2003, church officials announced a $500 million remodeling and revitalization plan for Salt Lake's two downtown malls, Crossroads Plaza and the ZCMI Center, both of which the church owns.

The existing malls, including The Inn at Temple Square, are expected to be razed to make way for the new mixed-use development, which may include about 900 housing units.

Further details of the mall revitalization project have not been announced, but mall managers have put up signs announcing that the renovation is imminent.

A call by The Associated Press to the Plaza Hotel for comment Wednesday was not immediately returned.

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