Faced with losing main tenant, developer TAG SLC lists 130-year-old Oquirrh School for sale

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The developer who attempted to demolish the historic Fifth Ward Meetinghouse in March is now looking to get rid of another historic property in anticipation of losing the building’s main tenant.

TAG SLC, the majority owner of the Oquirrh School, a 130-year-old building designed by the architect William Carroll, listed the building for sale this week.

The building has been occupied by the Salt Lake School for the Performing Arts (SPA) in recent years. But SPA’s existence after the current school year was thrust in doubt in March, when the Salt Lake City School District said it would part ways in June.

That leaves TAG at risk of losing a tenant that was paying $240,000 per year in rent, according to documents SPA filed with a state school board while attempting to find a new sponsor to keep its doors open after years of falling enrollment and budget problems.

TAG bought the property in July 2022, according to property records. Though it’s never been clear how the school fits into the firm’s portfolio given TAG, a former Building Salt Lake advertiser, is primarily an urban infill developer.

The building was one of at least two buildings on the list of National Register of Historic Places owned by TAG.

TAG ordered the other, the Fifth Ward Meetinghouse, to be demolished without first obtaining the necessary permits in late March, before a city employee saw the illegal demolition work being done on Easter Sunday and intervened to stop the destruction.

TAG faces fines of $200 per day until the firm can restore the Fifth Ward to its previous condition before March 31. 

There are proposals to renovate the Fifth Ward and restore it into a usable space. That difficult and expensive work has already been done to the Oquirrh School, which underwent extensive renovations in 2009 to update the four-story, 46,000-square-foot building sitting on 1.6 acres of land in the Central City neighborhood.

That work turned the century-old structure into a LEED Gold certified and modernized space that was immediately used for a children’s center before being occupied by SPA.

The building is widely credited as having been designed by Richard Kletting, who also designed the Utah State Capitol, but newspaper reports from the 19th century attribute it to Carroll.

“The building has exposed brick throughout, a vaulted ceiling with an atrium on the 4th floor, a beautiful first floor lobby, and has a historic feel about it that is truly one of a kind,” according to the listing, which is being managed by Tanner Riedel at Colliers. “The building has free on-site parking and a variety of signage options available.”

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Building Salt Lake is the leading source of commercial real estate news in Utah. Sign up to get our free emails in your inbox. Get access to the site’s paid features by becoming a Member today.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was updated to reflect the fact that, despite numerous preservation groups crediting Richard Kletting with the design of the Oquirrh School, newspaper reports from around the time of the school’s opening credit William Carroll.

Posted by Taylor Anderson

Taylor Anderson grew up near Chicago and made his way West to study journalism at the University of Montana. He's been a staff writer for the Chicago Tribune, Bend Bulletin and Salt Lake Tribune. A move from Portland, Oregon, to Salt Lake City opened his eyes to the importance of good urban design for building strong neighborhoods. He lives on the border of the Liberty Wells and Ballpark neighborhoods.